Flaherty on first (O’s down 3-0)

Ryan Flaherty is making his first major league start at first base tonight. He’s appeared in seven innings over four games at first since the Orioles selected him in the Rule 5 draft in the winter of 2011.

Flaherty has been fielding ground balls at first, anticipating that he might be needed. He headed out to the field early today and practiced taking throws in the dirt on double plays.

“I walked in today and Buck (Showalter) said a little bit ago, ‘Yeah, you might be at first tonight,’so I’ll try to fill in,” Flaherty said. “CD (Chris Davis) needs a day and it probably has something to do with me being versatile, so I’ll move over there and help out.

“I feel fine over there. The last couple weeks, I’ve taken some more grounders over there, and even in spring training, I played over there a little bit. I feel comfortable.

“I just try to move around and stay sharp, kind of look at the roster sometimes and see what position you might be needed at.”

Flaherty faced Astros starter Lucas Harrell on June 4 in Houston and went 1-for-3. That gives him an edge over most of his teammates.

“I faced him a couple times in the minor leagues, too,” Flaherty said. “I’ll try to fill in and help the team win.”

Flaherty recorded his 12th career putout in the first inning - and his first as a starter - on Jose Altuve’s grounder to shortstop J.J. Hardy. The Orioles aren’t planning a ceremony.

Left-hander Wei-Yin Chen threw 12 pitches in the inning, retiring the Astros in order. He got a called third strike on Jonathan Villar.

Umpire Kerwin Danley is behind the plate tonight. Buckle up.

Update: Chen retired the first seven Astros before allowing four straight singles, the last by Jose Altuve producing two runs. Jason Castro walked. Chris Carter struck out, but Jonathan Villar easily stole home to increase Houston’s lead to 3-0.

Villar could have crossed the plate, doubled back and crossed it again.

Chen struck out Justin Maxwell to end the inning and leave his pitch count at 50.

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