PIT@BAL: Pearce increases the lead with sharp single

BALTIMORE -- Steve Pearce was back in the Orioles' starting lineup on Thursday afternoon, after a whirlwind week and a half in which he was designated, released and claimed on outright waivers by another club before he re-signed a Major League deal with Baltimore on Wednesday night.

"It was stressful, but ultimately, I'm back where I want to be, so I'm happy," Pearce said of the recent events.

And it showed. In the Orioles' 5-1 win over the Pirates in the first game of Thursday's doubleheader, he was spectacular on defense and went 3-for-4 with two RBIs.

This was the outfielder/first baseman's second start of the year, and he is expected to see a lot more playing time with first baseman Chris Davis on the disabled list.

"I just knew the opportunity was there," Pearce said of his decision to turn down the claim and come back to Baltimore. "When I came on the team, it was mainly to be Chris' backup and to spare him. With him down, that's just going to open up the opportunity for me.

"I believe this team is a winner. And not taking anything away from the other team, but this has been my place since 2012. This is where I want to be, and I wanted to come back."

Orioles manager Buck Showalter said Pearce is one of a few options to replace Davis, out with a left oblique strain, and Showalter indicated that he wouldn't stick with one player. But Pearce, who had just seven at-bats entering play Thursday and last started on April 13, will likely be the primary guy.

Ryan Flaherty and Nick Markakis have also played first in Davis' absence.

Worth noting

• The Orioles' postponed April 15 game vs. Tampa Bay will be made up on Friday, June 27 at 1:05 p.m. ET as the first game of a separate-admission doubleheader. Tickets for the April 15 game are valid for the 1:05 p.m. game, and fans should bring their original tickets to the ballpark for admission. The regularly scheduled June 27 game remains at 7:05 p.m.

• Johan Santana got favorable reports in his simulated game on Monday, and he will make his extended spring debut on Saturday. Santana topped out at 87 mph on the radar gun and averaged closer to the mid-80s, Showalter said.

• Rule 5 Draft pick Michael Almanzar got a PRP (platelet rich plasma) injection in his left knee several days ago.