SARASOTA, Fla. - Orioles right-hander Jake Arrieta made another strong argument for being named the No. 5 starter.
Arrieta blanked the Pittsburgh Pirates on six hits over six innings tonight, walking two batters and striking out nine. He threw 88 pitches, 64 for strikes.
Arrieta hasn't allowed a run in his last three starts covering 14 2/3 innings. He's permitted 11 hits and fanned 16 batters.
Removing the Team Spain game, Arrieta has permitted three earned runs and 13 hits in 17 1/3 innings, with eight walks and 16 strikeouts.
Against Spain, he allowed one unearned run over three innings.
Arrieta, 27, appears to be the frontrunner for the final spot in the rotation, though manager Buck Showalter isn't going to make that decision on March 21. Showalter is still considering the other candidates, which include Steve Johnson, Brian Matusz, Zach Britton and Rule 5 pick T.J. McFarland.
Johnson tossed four scoreless innings in his last start and he takes the ball on Friday against the Tampa Bay Rays in Port Charlotte. He's surrendered two runs and six hits in nine innings, with four walks and seven strikeouts.
Matusz has allowed one run in his last three appearances covering 11 innings, with two walks and 11 strikeouts. He's been pounding the strike zone, which appeals to Showalter.
McFarland has turned in three straight scoreless appearances spanning eight innings since adjusting his delivery.
Britton hurt his cause by allowing five runs and seven hits in 1 2/3 innings on Wednesday, but Showalter isn't going to choose a fifth starter based only on statistics. He'll view the full body of work while also taking into account that each pitcher is working on certain things to prepare for the season.
Tonight's game is scoreless in the bottom of the seventh inning. Manny Machado has both of the Orioles' hits.
Luis Ayala retired the side in order in the top of the seventh on three ground balls.
Tonight's attendance: 6,000
Update: Ayala and Troy Patton each threw two scoreless innings, and tonight's game ended in a 0-0 tie after the 10th.
Patton stranded runners on second and third in the top of the 10th.