Orioles: Norris strong, drops former team

BALTIMORE - It's unlikely Bud Norris imagined he'd have to worry about run support upon being traded from Houston to Baltimore, not with an Orioles team that ranks among the league's top offenses.
Until the middle innings, it looked like Norris was in line for more of the same. But that's when Baltimore's bats broke out, at least for the time being.
The Orioles racked up their share of singles and rallied from an early deficit to beat the Astros 6-3 on Thursday before 17,909 at Camden Yards.
Baltimore took two of three in the series and made a winner out of Norris in his team debut after being acquired via trade Wednesday afternoon. The right-hander improved to 7-9 and won for the first time in nearly a month.
The Orioles (60-49) came in with six losses in eight games and a sputtering offense that averaged 2.4 runs over that stretch. Norris did his part by tossing six innings and striking out a season-high eight batters, while Baltimore tallied 11 hits (10 singles) and put together a three-run fifth inning and a two-run sixth.
Norris faced his old team for the first time, and pitched in Baltimore for the first time. And when it was over, he absorbed a pair of shaving-cream pies courtesy of new teammates Adam Jones and Alexi Casilla during a post-game TV interview.
"I hadn't had one before, it was the first one of my career," said Norris, who gave up a pair of solo home runs and four hits. "You see it all the time on the highlight reel and I had a feeling it might come. I'm pretty excited to take it, it was exhilarating."
Norris likely felt the pressure of pitching for the last-place Astros in terms of offensive output - Houston didn't give its Opening Day starter more than three runs over a span of 14 starts, and his 3.5 runs per game was fourth lowest in the league coming into Thursday's game.
The Orioles gave their new pitcher five runs while he was in the game, which tied a season high for Norris.
The sixth run came thanks to Chris Davis, who clubbed his 39th home run of the year, a solo shot with two outs in the seventh, and reached 100 RBIs for the season. Davis is one homer shy of becoming the fifth player in club history to reach 40 in a season.
The slugger also ended a personal streak of 24 games with at least one strikeout, a franchise record, and finished 2 for 4.
"Any time you've got a guy like Bud out there who's competing and really keeping us in the game, you want to put some runs on the board," Davis said. "We were able to hang in and get a couple of runs and then pile on a few later, which was huge. Bud did a great job tonight. We obviously expect big things out of him and he didn't disappoint."
Tommy Hunter, Brian Matusz and Jim Johnson combined to nail down the final three innings, with Johnson earning his league-best 38th save in the ninth. Houston (36-71) had the tying run at the plate with two outs in Matt Dominguez, but Johnson got him to ground out to end the game.
Before Thursday's game, the Orioles had 15 hits in their previous three games and hadn't posted 10 or more hits in eight straight.
Things changed in the fifth - RBI singles from Nate McLouth and Manny Machado tied the score at 2-2 in the fifth, and McLouth scored on a fly ball by Nick Markakis to give the Orioles their first lead.
Brian Roberts gave Norris an insurance run in the sixth with a two-out RBI single that made it 4-2, before McLouth tacked on another run with his second RBI hit of the game.
"We kept grinding, putting a lot of key hits together," said Orioles manager Buck Showalter. "We'll see. It's a work in progress. ... It continues. It's relentless. You've got to be ready for it."
Matt Krauss smacked a two-out solo homer to right in the fourth inning and the Astros led 2-0. Krauss' homer was the 12th by a left-hander against Norris this season. The 11th came from Brett Wallace, a .215 hitter, who led off the second with a long home run to right-center to give Houston the early lead.
But the runs didn't hold up, and Norris put together a quality start for his new team to earn a victory.
"As an Oriole, it was pretty special," Norris said. "I've been working a long time in my career to be in a postseason and a pennant race and this is exactly what it is. To be thrown in the fire and to go out there and to be able to control myself and my emotions was pretty special. A lot of breathing, a lot of stepping off the mound and just taking my time. ... I'm very happy with the win."

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