FORT MYERS, Fla. — Left-hander Brian Matusz, competing for a spot in Baltimore’s rotation, pitched five solid innings and the Orioles beat the Boston Red Sox 8-7 Tuesday. Matusz is among a number of contenders for the No. 5 spot. He allowed one run and six hits, striking out two and walking one.
Baltimore led by six runs before the Red Sox scored six times in the eighth off relievers Daniel Schlereth and Adam Russell to tie it. Danny Valencia’s solo home run in the ninth put the Orioles ahead.
Matusz became the first Baltimore starter to go at least five innings this spring. He threw 73 pitches, 48 for strikes.
Ryan Dempster started for the Red Sox, going five innings and giving up three runs on six hits and two walks.
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It appears that Jose Iglesias will be the Red Sox starting shortstop when Boston opens its season April 1.
Iglesias, 23, who began his pro career with the Portland Sea Dogs in 2010, was originally destined for Triple-A Pawtucket after the Red Sox signed free agent Stephen Drew in the off-season.
But Drew, 30, has been sidelined with a concussion since March 7, when he was hit in the head by a pitch. Drew flew to the University of Pittsburgh on Tuesday to undergo further tests.
When asked if Drew could be ready for the season opener, manager John Farrell said, “that window is closing.”
There has never been a question that Iglesias can field the position — he may already be one of the best in the game. But his short sample as a major league hitter (8-for-68) has not been impressive.
This spring, Iglesias looks better at the plate. He’s batting .233, including a 1-for-2 day on Tuesday.
“My approach is different. My swing. A little bit of everything,” Iglesias said. “I have more confidence. I’m more consistent. Everything is good.”
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David Ortiz, the other Red Sox regular who will begin the year on the disabled list, took 50 swings off a tee Tuesday. Ortiz, who is still trying to come back from an Achilles tendon injury last year, had not swung a bat in eight days.
“We’ll see how he comes out of that when we see him (today),” Farrell said.
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In Tuesday’s game, Ryan Dempster gave up as many runs (three) as in his three previous starts. All three runs came in the third inning.
“Might not have been as sharp with his strike throwing as we’ve seen in previous outings,” Farrell said. “But he used all his pitches. And he got two double-play grounders.”
Dempster allowed a total of six hits. His ERA is 3.06 as he remains a part of Boston’s hopeful plans for an improved rotation.
“It’s been nice,” Dempster said of the spring. “Comes from making quality pitches. I’m feeling good and I’ll keep building.”
Dempster, 35, came up in the Marlins organization and pitched for the Sea Dogs in 1998, going 4-3 (3.22 ERA) in seven starts.
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Daniel Bard was the third Boston pitcher in the game, following a 1-2-3 sixth by Junichi Tazawa. Bard allowed three runs in the seventh on two hits, a walk, a hit-batter and a balk.
“I made adjustments,” Bard said, “but it was a little too late.”
Farrell said the cure for Bard is simple. “It’s a matter of executing right from the start.”
With Bard having an option to the minors, he is still a candidate to begin the season in Pawtucket.
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Will Middlebrooks paced the Boston regulars with two hits, including a double, to up his spring average to .313. Most of the offense came from the subs who scored six runs in the eighth inning to tie the game 7-7. Jackie Bradley Jr. (.439) had one of the hits.
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Baltimore won the game 8-7 on Danny Valencia’s ninth-inning home run off Terry Doyle. Valencia was with Boston for the last two months of last season … Two former Sea Dogs subbed in for Baltimore on Tuesday: Catcher Luis Exposito (0-for-1) and shortstop Yamaico Navarro (1-for-1, RBI).