CLEVELAND — The Orioles headed home to Baltimore Sunday evening following their 7-3 win over the Cleveland Indians having done all they could to salvage their seven-game road trip.
A few days earlier, after the Orioles lost their fifth straight game in Houston against the Astros, center fielder Adam Jones said the club needed to become more efficient.
The Orioles' victory on Sunday over the Indians — in which the lineup plated five of its seven runs with two outs — was not only that, it gave the Orioles their first road series win since their relocated series in St. Petersburg, Fla., against Tampa Bay Rays on May 1-3, and it provided the Orioles some much-needed momentum.
"That's what I'm talking about, the efficiency," said Jones, who hit his third homer in the past four games. "You get a man on third base with less than two outs, we need to get him in. We get a man at second base in scoring position with no outs, that's manufacturing runs. … You can see that today. We had some good at-bats, some good hits. … Those are the type of things that we need to do and need to continue to do and mount on them because that's winning baseball."
The Orioles (26-30) continue to lurk under .500, but have won three of their past four games. Even though they finished the road trip with a 3-4 record, they recovered well after losing their first three games in Houston.
After playing their 22nd game in a 21-day span — that includes a doubleheader against the Chicago White Sox — the Orioles receive a welcomed day off Monday. They are sitting at the bottom of the division standings in an American League East that's suddenly getting hot and open an eight-game homestand Tuesday with back-to-back series against the division rivals Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees.
The seven runs the Orioles scored on Sunday were the most they've scored since an 8-5 win over the Marlins on May 22, a span of 18 games.
"We had a lot of big, two-out hits," Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. "That's a big momentum [swing], or at least a morale thing, especially on the other end when you think you're about to wiggle out of it and you don't."
Right-hander Bud Norris, making his first major league start in nearly a month because of a bout with bronchitis that caused him to lose 13 pounds, had a strong performance. Norris (2-4) allowed just one run on four hits and tied his season-high with seven strikeouts while walking two on 85 pitches.
"I know Bud's back because he's fighting me [to stay in the game]," Showalter said. "But that was Bud, especially early on. He came back and made pitches when he got into some situations. I was proud of him. It's been a long road back for him. He can mean a lot to us."
His fastball back in the mid-90s and his slider tailing in on the Indians' lefty-heavy lineup, Norris took a step in the right direction after a rocky start to the season that saw him post an unsightly 9.88 ERA in his first six starts before going on the disabled list.
"He was good," Orioles catcher Matt Wieters said. "He attacked with his fastball. And I think he is different from what I saw in spring training. He's got a lot more angle and his slider's got a lot more depth on it, which it nice because he can change speed with it. And today, he was able to locate his fastball real well, which was big for him."
The Indians' only run off Norris came in the fourth. The Orioles had staked Norris to a 4-0 lead when the Indians opened the inning with back-to-back doubles by David Murphy and Brandon Moss.
Norris hit the next batter, Nick Swisher, on the right leg, putting runners at first and second with no outs. But he struck out Lonnie Chisenhall and Yan Gomes before getting an inning-ending force play at second from Michael Bourn. Norris also stranded two baserunners in the fifth.
"Those are the situations that starting pitchers have to get through," Norris said. "We're going to have innings where they put up some hits and get into scoring position, but you have to make good pitches in those situations and stick to the reports and just really locate."
Jones gave the Orioles a lead three batters into the game with a solo shot off Indians starter Carlos Carrasco. Jones roped a 1-0 pitch just over the high left-field wall for his ninth home run of the season.
The Orioles added three runs in the fourth — all with two outs. With the bases loaded, Manny Machado plated a run with his second infield single of the day, a slow roller to third. Travis Snider added a two-run single, reaching his bat head out and looping a hit to center field.
Even though his season is just three games old, Wieters — who returned Friday from rehabilitating last year's Tommy John elbow surgery — has given the team a boost. Hitting from the cleanup spot, Wieters hit his first home run since May 1, 2014, in the ninth inning and also added a triple. He scored two runs.
"Hopefully, I hit another home run before I hit another triple," said Wieters, who hadn't the hit a triple since May 4, 2012. "It feels good. I put some good swings on balls and it's always nice, especially at the beginning of the year. But for me this is the beginning of the year to get all those zeroes off the categories."
Wieters' triple opened the fifth — the ball hit off the bottom of the right field fence and bounced away from Moss. Chris Davis then plated him with a sacrifice fly to right. With runners at the corners and two outs in the seventh, Jimmy Paredes gave the Orioles a 6-1 lead by lining an RBI single to right field.