KISSIMMEE, Fla. (AP) - Zach Britton is doing his best to stand out in Baltimore's crowded competition for the last spot in its rotation.
Britton threw four scoreless innings to help the Orioles beat the Houston Astros 6-4 on Saturday. The 6-foot-3 left-hander hasn't allowed a run in nine innings over three appearances this spring.
``I wasn't nervous again,' he said. ``That's been two games where I haven't really felt nervous. More just excited to be out there and get deep into games. I was trying to build up to four, five, six innings in the next couple of outings. If I get a couple more outings, then I'll have to get deeper into the game.'
Britton won the Jim Palmer Award for the organization's top minor league pitcher last season, splitting time between Double-A Bowie and Triple-A Norfolk. Orioles management has stated in the past it would rather wait until later in the year for Britton's major league debut, but he hasn't looked out of place so far this spring.
``Talking to people, they said I should just go out there and make the decision tough,' Britton said. ``Whether they have their mind made up or not, it doesn't affect the way I go out and pitch. I think I'm getting opportunities to start games and go deep into games, which is nice. Just try to work on things, but have good outings - just give them things to think about.'
Brandon Snyder hit a ground-rule double in Baltimore's three-run second inning against J.A. Happ, then added his first spring homer in the eighth.
Happ allowed three runs and five hits over four innings in his third spring start. The Orioles scored all of their runs in the second after a two-out walk to catcher Craig Tatum.
``Anytime you give up walks, it's going to be tough,' Houston manager Brad Mills said. ``We've talked about getting his consistency there and when he's on, he's able to get out of situations like that.'
Chris Tillman, also vying for the fifth spot in the Baltimore rotation, gave up three runs, one earned, and four hits in 3 2-3 innings. He walked two and struck out two in his 56-pitch outing.
``We've talked about friendly competition for two years now,' Tillman said. ``I think it's helped me, and I think it's helped Britt, too - if it already hasn't. I think the friendship part is a good part of it.'
NOTES: The game was delayed about 15 minutes in the seventh inning after an elderly woman was hit in the right eye on a foul ball hit by Phillies 1B Jake Fox. The woman was taken out of the stadium on a stretcher and transported to a hospital. ... Astros slugger Carlos Lee served as the designated hitter for the second consecutive game due to discomfort in his shoulder. He said the injury wasn't serious. ... Justine Siegel threw batting practice to a major league team for the fifth time this spring when she visited the Astros. Siegel faced Lee, Bill Hall, Clint Barmes and Matt Downs. The 36-year-old Cleveland native made history in February when she became the first woman to throw against MLB hitters in the Cleveland Indians camp. Siegel is on a promotional tour of sorts to bring awareness to her organization, ``Baseball for All,' which is an organization geared toward greater participation by women in the game.
The Associated Press News Service
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