O's comeback in ninth falls short for 5-3 loss to Phillies

CLEARWATER, Fla. - The Orioles' reserves tried to produce some magic in the top of ninth today, scoring two runs. But the rally came up short as the Phillies beat an O's split squad 5-3 in front of a record crowd of 11,100 at Bright House Field.

In the ninth, Adrian Marin, Steel Russell and Danny Valencia singled to load the bases. One run scored on a Luis Exposito sac fly before an LJ Hoes RBI double made it 5-3 and put runners on second and third. But John Ruettiger's groundout to short ended the game.

Hoes, who went 1-for-2 today in a reserve role, was optioned to Triple-A Norfolk after the game. On Friday, he talked with me about his experience in big league camp.

Jason Hammel allowed four runs and six hits over 4 2/3 innings, throwing 77 pitches, in his longest outing of the spring. As Buck Showalter managed the squad in Sarasota, O's bench coach John Russell managed the group in Clearwater this afternoon.

"You know, I thought Hammel did OK," Russell said. "He left some balls up, but I thought he pitched inside pretty well today. Got in on some good hitters, so it was encouraging. He got his work in.

"Tommy Hunter threw the ball well. Daniel McCutchen has been working on coming down a little bit (with his arm slot) and I thought he had really good movement on the ball. All in all, I thought it was all right. Hammel, he's got great stuff and I was very encouraged the way he pitched inside today.

"I think the day went well for him. He gave up more runs than he wanted to, but as far as what he wanted to accomplish today, I think he did that. I think it was a good outing for him in that sense."

That ninth-inning rally produced two runs on four hits.

"Yeah, it was fun. We had some pretty good at-bats late and we had the tying run at second," Russell said.

Steve Pearce continued his solid spring at the plate, going 1-for-2 with a solo homer in the second on an 0-2 pitch from Zach Minor. Pearce is now batting .393 (11-for-28) and leads the team with four homers and is tied for the lead with 12 RBIs.

"He's done well," Russell said. "We had him last year and we know he can swing. He can jump on a pitch and hit it out. He's had a good spring. We'll just keep day to day and see where we go."

The game featured a father managing his son as Russell's son Steel, the Orioles 32nd-round draft pick last June out of Midland (Tex.) Junior College, got into the game in the seventh inning. He lined out to short on a hard-hit ball in the seventh and singled in the ninth. Russell played last summer for the Gulf Coast League Orioles.

"It was great. He smoked that first ball and didn't get a hit," John Russell said. "He's on cloud nine and I'm a very proud father. Glad he got the opportunity to get in there and he swung the bat well."

So it was a day where the Orioles split squad split games with a win in Sarasota and a loss here to the Phillies, leaving the O's Grapefruit League record at 13-6-2.

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