By Eduardo A. Encina
The Baltimore Sun
5:49 PM EST, March 5, 2013
DUNEDIN, Fla. -- Steve Pearce and Conor Jackson, two players competing against each other trying to win a roster spot with the Orioles, have been the team’s top two hitters over the first 10 games of the Grapefruit League schedule.
They continued their scorching springs, combining for three of the Orioles' four homers in Tuesday’s 6-6 10-inning tie with the Blue Jays.
Pearce homered twice and Jackson added three hits, including a homer.
In six spring games, Pearce -- who spent last season shuffling between the Orioles, Yankees and Astros along the waiver wire – is now 6-for-11 with three homers and nine RBIs in six spring games.
Jackson, a minor league signing who has played in 60 major league games just once since 2009, is 9-for-19 with three homers and six RBIs.
Both are battling for a reserve outfielder-first baseman role.
"Steve's swinging the bat well too," Jackson said. "It's one of those things. It's competition. Competition breeds success. I've always said that from the first day of my career. When you don't have that competitive guy pushing you, you kind of stay stagnant as a player."
Right-hander Steve Johnson, making his first spring training start after his first two outings came in relief, struggled with his control early, allowing two runs over two innings, including a solo homer by Andy LaRoche in the second.
“I felt good physically, so that was good, but obviously the results weren't really what I wanted,” said Johnson, who typically has excellent control. “I wanted to go out there and pound the zone. Just couldn't really get in a rhythm today, especially early. Second inning, I felt a little better and pounded the zone a little more. [In the] first inning, I just left the ball up a lot.”
Right-hander Jair Jurrjens followed Johnson and was just one strike away from three shutout innings. But he issued a two-out walk to Anthony Gose, then the Jays then put together four consecutive hits off Jurrjens to take a 5-2 lead in the fifth.
Jackson and Pearce hit back-to-back solo homers in the sixth. Catcher Luis Exposito’s two run shot gave the Orioles a 6-5 lead.
Ryan Langerhans' solo homer off reliever Zach Clark tied the game in the bottom of the ninth. The teams played a scoreless 10th inning.
Orioles shortstop Alexi Casilla also had three hits for the Orioles (7-2-1).
Pitching prospect Kevin Gausman allowed three hits over two shutout innings, striking out two looking. Mike Belfiore threw 1 1/3 scoreless frames.
Outfielder Nolan Reimold, back in the lineup for the first time since abruptly exiting Friday's game with a sore right shoulder, was 0-for-3 with a strikeout as the team's DH.