BRADENTON, Fla. - The Pirates scored an unearned run off Jim Johnson after his leadoff walk to Andrew McCutchen in the bottom of the seventh, but Matt Wieters responded with his third hit of the night, an RBI single in the top of the eighth to give the Orioles a 3-1 lead.
Tommy Hunter threw 15 more pitches in the bullpen after racking up 70 over six scoreless innings.
Hunter was much better tonight than in his Grapefruit League debut.
“Fastball was getting located,” he said. “That was the struggle last time. I was pretty much all over the place the last time I threw. I still fell behind the first batter of the game. That was making an adjustment, I guess, to the mound. The mounds are a little different. After that, I settled in, and me and (Matt Wieters) were in sync all night.
“I threw against these guys two years ago, maybe 2010, so I wasn’t too familiar with them. I go, “Weity, I’m on you all game.’ We threw back-to-back 0-0 changeup and then 1-0 changeup. We worked on a couple things, too. It kind of made me smile on the mound.
“All in all, it felt good.”
Hunter enjoyed being in a duel with former Oriole Erik Bedard, who didn’t allow a run until the seventh.
“It was a very, very quick game,” Hunter said. “He was throwing a lot of strikes and it was quick coming in and out. It’s a lot easier to keep rhythm.”
Hunter feels like he’s “on track” for the regular season.
“I’ve got one more (start), maybe two. I don’t know what the days are,” he said. “Definitely something to work on from here.
“It was definitely fun. This was baseball. Going out for six innings and still having something left. We’ll see what happens when April 6, 7, 8, 9, 10 and the rest of the season comes along.”
Game update: Blake Davis made the trip to Bradenton, and his looping single into left field scored Ryan Flaherty, who reached on an error, and increased the Orioles’ lead to 4-1 in the ninth.
Update II: The Pirates put two runners on base against Darren O’Day in the bottom of the ninth, but Garrett Jones struck out looking, and the Orioles held on for a 4-1 victory.
Manager Buck Showalter said Hunter and Bedard looked like they were “ready to start the season.”
“Tommy had a good look in his face. Guys understand what time of year it is and what’s going on. He was really focused tonight.”
Showalter also said Johnson looks a little better every time out.
“I know he felt better about it,” Showalter said.
Looking ahead to later this week, Brian Matusz’s next start is Friday against the Tigers in Sarasota. Jake Arrieta is pushed back to the following day.
Is he being lined up for opening day? Hmmmm ...