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CLE@BAL: Simon throws seven frames of two-run ball

Friday marks start No. 3 of Alfredo Simon's season and just the sixth of his career, one that was very seriously threatened this offseason.

Simon was involved in legal trouble in his native Dominican Republic, where he returned to earlier this week, but now he said he does not have to engage those legal issues again until Oct. 18.

That frees up Simon to focus on pitching, and specifically, starting, the role he's always wanted.

"I'm feeling more comfortable because I know I'm going to be a starter, so I just put my mind there," the 30-year-old right-hander said. "And I just feel really comfortable right now. I'm fine throwing seven innings. But every time I go out there, I got to try to do the same thing and keep the team in there as long as I can."

Simon pitched very well in his second start of the year, going seven innings and allowing two runs to Cleveland in a 6-5 win on Saturday. He struck out five and allowed three hits and one walk.

As a team, the O's started their second half by splitting a four-game set with the Indians and dropping two of three to the Red Sox, both series at Camden Yards. They wrap the homestand with a three-game set against the Angels starting at 7:05 p.m. ET on Friday.

The Halos, who are heading out on a three-city, 10-game road trip, dropped four of five after the All-Star break before taking the final two games of their series against the Rangers to trim their deficit in the American League West to three games.

Right-hander Ervin Santana, who hasn't allowed more than three earned runs in his last six starts (and he only gave up three once), will face the Orioles. Run support's been hard for him to come by, and he's done poorly against Baltimore lifetime, posting a 5.84 ERA in 10 starts.

Angels: Conger reacts maturely to demotion
• Hank Conger, 23, and raised in Huntington Beach, took his demotion to Triple-A Salt Lake in stride on Tuesday.

"When the season started, it was like it was going to be a one-week thing with guys coming off the DL," Conger said. "I've appreciated every day I've been here, and I think I've learned a lot. I was able to do some things to help the team, and now it seems like it's the other way around."

Conger hit .214 with a .297 on-base percentage and five home runs in 154 at-bats and 50 games.

Orioles: Johnson nearing starting gig
• Reliever Jim Johnson could get some starts before the end of the season, manager Buck Showalter hinted on Wednesday.

"I have a pretty good grip on where we are going," Showalter said. "Let's see what happens between now and the end of this month. Things could change that. So I'll keep an open mind on it."

The Orioles' fifth-round pick in the 2001 First-Year Player Draft, Johnson has one career Major League start -- as a 23-year-old in 2006.

"I think [if he is going to start], that is something he needs to know going into the offseason and something he needs to be exposed to a little bit before he leaves here," Showalter said.

• Infielder Cesar Izturis (right elbow surgery) remains scheduled to begin a rehab assignment Friday with the Gulf Coast League Orioles.

Worth noting
• The O's are 4-7 in potential series-clinching games.

• Entering Wednesday, the Halos had been shut out 11 times this season, two more than they were all of last year. Comments