SAN DIEGO –- This is why the Orioles traded for Bud Norris. Just a week after the Orioles made sure they made the best offer to the Houston Astros for Norris, he’s rewarded them with two wins in two starts.
On Tuesday night, Norris had baserunners in five of his six innings, and allowed just one to score. His ability to strand runners proved instrumental in the Orioles’ 4-1 win over the San Diego Padres before 28,055 at Petco Park.
In his two starts, Norris has given up three runs on nine hits in 12 innings, and the Orioles have two wins.
“It’s been great to come over with a ball club that’s in a pennant race and focus on winning,” Norris said. “Our focus is winning and that’s where my focus is too.”
The Orioles (62-51) face brutal completion in both the American League East and for the Wild Card. They’re six games behind the first place Boston Red Sox and trail second place Tampa Bay by 4 ½ games in the division. The Orioles are tied with Cleveland, 1 ½ games out of the Wild Card.
“To pull it out, we have to win,” Adam Jones said. “If we look at the scoreboard, that’s not going to do anything for our game.
“We have to control what we can control and if we rack up the Ws we are going to give ourselves the best chance. And the cool part about it is we are going to run into Tampa and Boston in September so we just want to give ourselves, when September 1, everybody is close. And run the gauntlet.”
Norris’ effective starting and Jones’ season-high four hits were key.
Jones, playing in front of seemingly thousands of family and friends, was buoyed by their support. He had a first-inning RBI single, a fourth-inning home run and scored a crucial run in the eighth inning after a single. He also had his 10th steal and a sixth-inning single.
“Adam put together a big night. His two-out RBIs are always a momentum change,” manager Buck Showalter said.
The Orioles got off quickly. Nate McLouth led off the first with a double. He stole third, his 26th steal of the season, and scored on a two-out single by Jones.
“I’m glad I got it out of the way because I was tired by about the third inning, it seemed like,” McLouth joked.
This was the first of eight games in San Diego, San Francisco and Arizona. After a disappointing 4-5 homestand, it was important for the Orioles to start smartly.
“Anytime you can start a road trip off with a win it’s a great way to start. Playing on the road is never easy,” Norris said.
Norris (8-9) allowed one run on five hits. He walked two and struck out five.
“He’s on attack mode. That’s one thing we like about him,” Showalter said. “His button is on most of the time.”
In the first two innings, Norris left runners on third with none out.
Will Venable led off the first with a triple, but was stranded there as Norris get two infield outs and a strikeout. In the second, Jedd Gyorko walked and Alexi Amarista singled Gyorko to third, but Norris struck out Logan Forsythe and ended the inning by getting Nick Hundley to hit into a double play.
“A big momentum boost for sure. A leadoff triple is never the way you want to start the game,” Norris said.
Jones led off the fourth with his 26th home run of the season off Edinson Volquez (8-9).
In the bottom of the sixth, Norris allowed a run when the Padres (52-61) started the inning with three straight hits. Chris Denorfia, Chase Headley and Yonder Alonso each singled. After Alonso’s RBI base hit, Norris retired the next three hitters.
Tommy Hunter pitched the seventh, and in the top of the eighth, the Orioles added on. With two outs, Jones singled, stole second and scored on Chris Davis’ double to right off Luke Gregerson.
Brian Matusz began the eighth, and after he allowed a one-out single to Alonso, Darren O’Day relieved him and on the second pitch got Gyorko to hit into a double play.
The Orioles increased their lead to 4-1 in the ninth. J.J. Hardy singled and Brian Roberts walked. Alexi Casilla bunted into a force and after McLouth flied out, Manny Machado singled off Tim Stauffer to score Hardy.
Jim Johnson worked the ninth for his 39th save. He’s converted 10 straight.
NOTES: The Orioles’ recent drive in support of the Maryland Food Bank netted nearly $35,000 and almost five tons of food.
-Miguel Gonzalez (8-5, 3.88) faces Eric Stults (8-10, 3.55) on Wednesday afternoon.