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March 21, 2013

Orioles, Pirates play to scoreless tie

SARASOTA, Fla. — Jake Arrieta is making it very difficult for Buck Showalter to leave him out of the Orioles’ rotation.

Arrieta threw six-hit ball for six innings, and Baltimore and the Pittsburgh Pirates played to a 0-0 tie in 10 innings Thursday.

Arrieta, who became the first Baltimore pitcher to work six innings this spring, struck out nine and walked two. He’s pitched 14 2⁄3 shutout innings over his last three starts, allowing 11 hits, striking out 16 and walking five.

With an ERA of 1.56 this spring, Arrieta feels he’s done enough to make the team.

“I think so, but it’s not in my hands. All I can do is go out there and show that I belong on the team, and after that it’s their decision,” Arrieta said.

With 10 days left before he has to set his 25-man roster, Showalter isn’t yet declaring Arrieta has made the team.

“He’s shown me enough to be in the competition,” Showalter said.

Jonathan Sanchez, trying to make the Pirates’ staff, gave up two hits in five innings, striking out four and walking one. In his last two starts, Sanchez has pitched eight shutout innings, allowing three hits.

This was Sanchez’s final appearance before he can opt out of his contract on Monday.

“It’s hard to be waiting, waiting. I want to be here. They brought me here. If they need me here, I’m happy to be here,” Sanchez said.

A year ago, Sanchez, who was a stalwart on the 2010 World Champion San Francisco Giants club, had a 1-9 record with a horrifying 8.07 ERA with Colorado and Kansas City. The Pirates signed him to a minor league contract last month, and after a rocky start, has done well.

Pittsburgh has tinkered with Sanchez during camp.

“I went back to my old mechanics this spring and it’s working. I don’t know if it’s my mechanics or what it is right now,” Sanchez said.

Manager Clint Hurdle brought veteran catcher Russell Martin along to catch Sanchez, and liked the results.

“Jonathan was extremely aggressive tonight. We’ve seen it the last two times out. He went after some good fastball hitters, he got in some good sequences, he mixed in his changeup. Russell and him really worked well together,” Hurdle said.

Arrieta, who was the Opening Day starter last year, pitched effectively out of the stretch. Showalter noted that eight of his nine strikeouts came from the stretch.

“I’d like to see him get a little sharper out of the windup. He’s a little different pitcher out of the stretch,” Showalter said.

This was the second scoreless 10-inning game in two days. The Giants and Brewers had a rare 0-0 tie Wednesday.

NOTES: Orioles RF Nick Markakis, who has been sidelined since March. 3 with a small disk herniation in his neck, has been cleared to resume baseball activities on Friday. ... Pirates 1B Gaby Sanchez was a late scratch due to an allergic reaction. ... Pittsburgh INF John McDonald, who was acquired from Arizona on Wednesday, is expected in camp on Friday. ... Baltimore optioned INF Danny Valencia to Triple-A Norfolk. ... Orioles LHP Mark Hendrickson is away from the team for the birth of his child. ... The Pirates host a Tampa Bay split squad on Friday in Bradenton. RHP Jeanmar Gomez is scheduled to start for Pittsburgh. RHP Alex Cobb starts for the Rays. ... The Orioles play the other Tampa Bay split squad at Port Charlotte. RHP Steve Johnson starts against RHP Jeff Niemann.

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