Brian Matusz gives up five runs in four innings vs. Pirates

Orioles left-hander Brian Matusz, competing for the fifth starter’s spot, took a step backward Sunday, allowing five runs in four innings against the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Matusz was staked an 8-0 lead in the first inning, but allowed two runs in the first on an Andrew McCutchen homer and two more in the third on RBIs by Gaby Sanchez and Neil Walker. Overall, he gave up nine hits and a walk while striking out two. He threw 67 pitches, 46 for strikes.

“Just went out there, never found a rhythm and didn’t pitch well,” said Matusz, who now has a 4.26 ERA in six spring games (four starts). “I was able to get my work in, throw pitches and be able to use all four pitches, but I was just leaving the ball up in the zone and they were hitting it.”

It was an overall rough outing by Matusz, who also made a fielding lapse in the third on Walker’s single to the right side of the infield. First baseman Travis Ishikawa grabbed the bouncer but Matusz didn’t cover first base.

Although it’s becoming more apparent Jake Arrieta will claim the last spot in the rotation, Matusz is still expected to be in the bullpen, where he excelled at the end of last year. He said having a tough outing at this point in spring doesn’t make it more disappointing for him.

“It’s disappointing having an outing like this regardless of the situation,” Matusz said. “Every time the offense goes out there and puts up eight you want to go out there and shut it down and pitch well. For me I’d like to go out and pitch well every single time. You never want to have an outing like this.”

Matusz, who threw his fastball in the 88 to 91 mph range Sunday, wouldn’t use the long first half inning as a reason for his struggles.

"It doesn’t matter,” he said. “When it’s my turn to pitch, you are supposed to go out there and get a job done. And I didn’t do that today.”