CLEARWATER, Fla. — Brian Matusz lost his last nine decisions in 2011 and struggled again in his first exhibition outing.
The next time out, he looked a lot better.
Matusz bounced back from a shaky spring debut, pitching four sharp innings as the Baltimore Orioles beat the Philadelphia Phillies 1-0 Saturday.
“That’s a tough lineup — especially at home in Clearwater,” Matusz said. “It felt nice to be able to go out there against a top-notch lineup and be able to attack the zone like that.”
Matusz went 1-9 with a 10.69 ERA in 2011. Earlier this week, he gave up three runs and six hits in two innings to Pittsburgh.
Against Philadelphia, the 25-year-old lefty allowed three hits without a walk while striking out four.
“He’s put in so much this offseason since the last pitch was thrown,” Baltimore manager Buck Showalter said. “I want to see him getting a return. When you’re doing the right things, I want to see them getting a return.”
Joe Blanton pitched three scoreless innings for the Phillies in his second spring start. The 31-year-old righty was limited to eight starts last year because of an elbow injury.
Blanton allowed four hits, struck out three and walked one.
“I feel good, physically I feel really good,” Blanton said. “I had zero problem getting loose between innings and I know sometimes that can be a factor in the spring, getting used to that up-and-down, up-and-down, even when you’re coming off a 100 percent healthy season and you’re 100 percent going into spring, that always is the tough one.”
Chris Davis greeted Phillies reliever Scott Elarton with a leadoff home run in the fourth. It was Baltimore’s first homer this spring.
Elarton, who hasn’t pitched in the big leagues since 2008, retired the next 12 batters in a row.
The 36-year-old Elarton, a former 17-game winner, was invited to major league camp after Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. personally scouted him last fall.
“All I’ve ever done is battle, I was always injured, coming back from injury, rehabbing, all that stuff,” said Elarton, who has allowed one run in six innings this spring. “That’s kind of what I do. I’m very grateful for the opportunity, absolutely.”
Philadelphia catcher Tuffy Gosewich was the only player on either team with more than one hit in a two-hour, 18-minute game dominated by pitching. Gosewich went 2 for 2 with a double.
NOTES: Orioles OF Nolan Reimold, hit in the face by a pitch from Tampa Bay’s Alex Cobb on Friday, said his swollen jaw felt better Saturday morning. Reimold will see a dentist for a chipped tooth on Monday, and should be able to play Tuesday, Showalter said. ... Orioles C Ronny Paulino, whose arrival was delayed for three weeks by visa problems, reported to camp. ... Orioles C Taylor Teagarden said he hoped his strained back would allow him to play within a week. ... Orioles RHP Alfredo Simon took over for Matusz and pitched three shutout innings. He has thrown five scoreless innings this week. ... Philadelphia 2B Chase Utley took batting practice prior but was out of the starting lineup for the ninth straight game this spring. The Phillies are avoiding using Utley in the early part of the spring after he missed seven weeks in 2011 with right knee tendinitis. “We’ve been keeping him off his feet,” Amaro said. Phillies LHP Dontrelle Willis played catch, the first time he has thrown since coming out of a game on March 7 with arm tightness and fatigue. Pitching coach Rich Dubee does not have a tentative plan for when Willis will again be able to pitch in a game. .... Phillies RHP Jose Contreras’ next step in his rehab will come in a game. Contreras, who had elbow surgery prior to the end of the 2011 regular season, threw a live batting practice session on Friday. Dubee did not specify when Contreras’ spring debut will happen.