FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. -- Adam Loewen feels so much better now than he did as an Orioles rookie last season. He's better organized, he knows how to act more with regard for his veteran teammates, he came in lighter with more flexibility -- and he feels accepted.

Yet the 6-foot-6 left-hander also is trying something new to make him a better pitcher.

He used a different grip on his curveball in pitching two scoreless innings Monday as the Orioles defeated the Marlins, 5-3, at Fort Lauderdale Stadium. It helped him strike out five batters, including four in a row.

Loewen, who gave up a hit and a walk, learned the grip from teammate and pal Erik Bedard. It allows Loewen to get more spin on the ball, and he particularly made Mike Jacobs look overmatched on it Monday.

"It's something he's been throwing for a while and it works for him," Loewen said. "He's got a pretty hard-breaking curveball. As soon as I started throwing it that way, I saw more break in there. And I felt comfortable with it, so I took it right into the game."

Loewen, who went 6-6 last season with a 5.37 ERA, worked with a personal trainer in the offseason, because he wanted to come into camp lighter.

"I wanted to be lighter and more flexible," he said. "I worked on my legs to be stronger so I can push to the plate better and get my velocity back up where it should be."

He likes where he is now in regard to knowing how to prepare for games, how much bullpen work is involved and how much mental preparation is needed. He also realizes now that he should have respected baseball more from the beginning.

"I wasn't very social," he said. "I didn't know how to act around adults, guys who have been around forever and have a lot of respect for the game and expect you to be the same. At 19, 20 years old, I didn't really have that. But I know now that baseball is a game of respect. You have to respect the game."

In talking to those with more experience, Loewen said he now can take into the season three approaches that could help him help the Orioles have a breakout year: always take care of your arm; when you make good starts, good things happen; and keep your legs as fresh as possible.

"I didn't know that much when I got here," he said. "I feel so much better now."

Spring Training
News and features:
Multimedia:
• Orioles Spring Training Report:  350K
• Perlozzo gives update on O's:  350K
• Kendall on Class A Delmarva:  350K
• Fahey discusses his role with O's:  350K
• Tides' Allenson on scrimmage:  350K
• Mazzone feels comfortable:  350K
Spring Training info:
MLB.com coverage  |  Schedule  |  Ballpark  |  Tickets

Roberts seeks extension: Mark Pieper, the agent for second baseman Brian Roberts, met with the Orioles vice president baseball operations Jim Duquette on Monday with the idea of extending Roberts' contract through at least 2009.

"We just continue to work on it," Pieper said. "We've had some constructive conversations. I have no reason not to be optimistic."

Duquette is in general agreement that Roberts, who hit .286 last season with 10 home runs and 55 RBIs, is deserving of an extension.

"He's one of the players we'd like to build the organization around," Duquette said. "We have several guys who have contracts through 2009, and we'd like to be able to extend his to at least 2009."

Short-changed? At Sunday's home game against the Mets, the Orioles started a lineup that could easily be used during the regular season: Roberts was in there. So was the power trio of Melivin Mora, Miguel Tejada and Jay Gibbons. Ramon Hernandez was the starting catcher and Corey Patterson started in the outfield.

The Mets? The only starter they brought with them from Port St. Lucie, Fla., was pitcher John Maine. And a lot of people noticed the stark difference.

Some of the crowd of 8,067 at Fort Lauderdale Stadium -- just 273 short of a sellout -- complained about it. One man was seen tearing up his tickets and leaving after he saw who the Mets had brought on their bus. Others were overheard grousing in the concession line that they had paid to see a glorified Triple-A team play.

According to Duquette, teams are asked to bring at least three to four regulars to every Spring Training road game.

"They were sensitive to what happened," he said. "They apologized for it right away. And they said it would not happen again."

Duquette, a former Mets general manager, said the Orioles have a good relationship with the Mets and he did not plan to complain to the league.

Quotable: "Naw, it's just the four shirts I have on." -- Jay Payton, responding to a comment on a chilly Monday that his arms look bigger this spring

Coming up: Right-hander Steve Trachsel makes his second start as an Oriole on Tuesday in a 1:05 p.m. ET game against the Cardinals. The visitors will start right-hander Chris Carpenter.