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BAL@TB: Britton fans six in his Major League debut

Orioles rookie left-hander Zach Britton has displayed few signs of having first-year jitters in winning three of his first four Major League starts.

He'll need to maintain that poise on Tuesday, when his team hosts the Red Sox in the opener of a three-game set, because Boston is hardly looking like the team that started the season 0-6 and left many in the baseball world scratching their heads.

Having won eight of their last nine games, the Red Sox would reach .500 for the first time this season with a win in the series opener.

"I think everyone is just getting comfortable around each other and we're learning how to win with each other," shortstop Jed Lowrie said. "We're going in the right direction."

Britton, 23, will try to halt that momentum coming off a win against the Twins in which he gave up five hits and three runs over six innings while battling illness.

"He's a nice-looking young pitcher," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said of Britton. "He's got a nice little sinker off his fastball that dies pretty hard. ... He moves the ball in and out. He looks like he handled himself real well out there."

The rookie's best outing of the year came in his second start, when he blanked the Rangers over 7 2/3 innings while surrendering just four hits.

Tuesday's start will be the first against the Red Sox for Britton, who is the first Orioles rookie starter to win three games before April 21.

For Boston, starter Clay Buchholz is searching for improved command while trying to continue an impressive string of performances by Red Sox starters.

John Lackey's gem in Sunday's win over the Angels -- in which he tossed eight shutout innings -- marked the ninth straight game that Red Sox starters have allowed two runs or fewer while throwing more than five innings, tying a mark set by the club in 1946.

Buchholz, who picked up his first win of the year against the A's his last time out, has 14 walks against 10 strikeouts and he has only reached the seventh inning in one start, his first of the season.

Orioles: Reynolds breaks rough stretch
With his seventh-inning homer of Joba Chamberlain on Sunday, Mark Reynolds broke a streak of 22 hitless at-bats. Before the homer, Reynolds' last hit was a fifth-inning single against the Indians on April 16.

Though he is struggling at the plate, batting .179, Reynolds has reduced his strikeouts. After whiffing 211 times in 499 at-bats last season (42.3 percent of at-bats), Reynolds has struck out 21 times in 67 at-bats this season.

Red Sox: Lowrie rests; Scutaro takes advantage
Though Red Sox manager Terry Francona decided to rest Lowrie, who was 14-for-34 over an eight-day stretch, in Sunday's series finale against the Angels, Boston didn't miss a beat with replacement Marco Scutaro.

Scutaro was 2-for-3 with two runs scored in leading the Red Sox to a four-game sweep of the Halos.

Though Lowrie, who has battled injuries in recent seasons, is healthy, Francona said he doesn't want to ride the infielder too hard early in the season.

"I think he's swinging the bat real well," Francona said of Lowrie. "I think sometimes you reach too far with guys, though. You set them back."

Worth noting
• With their 6-3 loss to the Yankees in 11 innings on Sunday, the Orioles fell to 1-10 when scoring fewer than four runs. Baltimore is 7-2 when scoring four runs or more.

• After a franchise-worst 0-7 start on the road this season, the Red Sox have now won five straight away from Fenway Park.

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