Bud Norris

Bud Norris (Kim Klement, USA Today Sports / March 13, 2014)

BRADENTON, Fla. – Right-hander Bud Norris rebounded impressively from a rough outing last time out and the Orioles scratched out a few runs to beat the PittsburgPirates 4-2 on Thursday night.

Norris, who is expected to pitch in the fifth slot in the rotation, threw five strong innings, allowing just one run on two hits and two walks while striking out five.

It was a nice rebound from his last Grapefruit League start against the New York Yankees in which he gave up three runs (two earned) in just 1 2/3 innings.

“Yeah, considering the way New York went, I was pretty happy to get through five,” Norris said.

His only mistake was a first-inning homer to reigning National League MVP Andrew McCutchen, who lifted a ball into the wind blowing out to right.

“Early in the game, you’re going to give up a solo. He put a good swing on the ball, mistake I made but I faced him a few times in my career and the numbers are going to be there,” Norris said. “It’s a great battle. He’s a great player. We all know who he is, and what he’s capable of doing. He’s someone a lot of teams are going to have to deal with this year.”    

Norris has now allowed just three earned runs in 11 2/3 innings. The five-inning stint – which lasted about 75 pitches – was his longest this spring. A good sign as Opening day approaches.

“We know we're breaking camp here soon and those last couple spots are out there to go get,” Norris said. “So everybody's been working real hard and kind of getting antsy because we know there's still work to be done.”

Pirates lefty Francisco Liriano held the Orioles scoreless through 5 2/3 innings, but he left during a 3-1 count to Adam Jones in the sixth due to left groin tightness. Jones then reached via error and scored on a double by Nelson Cruz.

Cruz had two doubles on the night and is now hitting .346 this spring.

The Orioles (11-7-1) scored their other three runs on outs – sacrifice flies by Michael Almanzar and Chad Tracy and a groundout by Henry Urrutia.

David Lough, who hadn’t played since last Wednesday due to neck stiffness, entered in the sixth to play center field. He singled, stole a base and scored a run in his lone at-bat

The Pirates scored one run in the eighth on three singles against lefty T.J. McFarland.

Thursday’s announced attendance was 8,186 – which is the largest for a night game in the history of McKechnie Field.

dan.connolly@baltsun.com