After a tough series against the Oakland A's, the Baltimore Orioles rebounded to take game one of their three game set with the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim 4-2 courtesy of two, two run home runs from Adam Jones and a strong start from Bud Norris.
Jones and the Orioles did not wait long to get things going as Nick Markakis led off the game with a single and two batters later, Jones crushed a no-doubter over the left field wall for a two run shot and a 2-0 lead before Norris even took the mound.
Baltimore's bats laid quiet after the first until the sixth, when that man, Mr. Jones came to the plate with two outs and Markakis on second, who doubled two batters prior. Jones' first home run was a no doubter, but the 1-1 pitch he launched over the left center field wall was borderline majestic as it traveled an estimated 443 feet, his longest home run of the season, and more importantly broke a 2-2 tie to give the O's a 4-2 lead, that they would not relinquish.
It's not hard to see that the offense pretty much centered around two guys on Monday Night as the Orioles managed just six hits in the game and Markakis and Jones combined for four of them. Jones went 2-4 with two home runs and four RBI, while Markakis also went 2-4 with a double and two runs scored.
On the mound, Norris was making his first start since being optioned to AA Bowie in order to get him a start over the All Star break as it was just his third total start since coming off of the disabled list. Norris appeared to return to the form we had become accustomed to seeing him pitch to in the first half of the season as he had his stuff working and was battling.
Norris was keeping Angels hitters off balance all night, by mixing his pitches well and moving the ball up and down as well as in and out. He only really had one shaky inning when he allowed one run, and three hits and had to strikeout Mike Trout with the bases loaded and two outs to avoid more trouble in the fourth. Norris allowed an unearned run in the first as well, but he had a pretty darn good night for the Birds as he tossed 6 2/3 innings, while allowing two runs (one earned), on eight hits, two walks and he struck out eight on the night. He needed 103 pitches on the night, 69 of which were for strikes.
The bullpen remained solid as they combined to toss 2 1/3 scoreless as Brian Matusz struck out the only batter he faced, Darren O'Day had a perfect eighth and Zach Britton tossed a perfect ninth for his 17th save of the season.
With the win, combined with losses from Toronto and New York, the Orioles lead in the AL East is back to four games.
Baltimore will look to secure a series win tonight as they send Miguel Gonzalez (4-5) to the mound for the start against Angels starter Hector Santiago (2-7). Gonzalez will be recalled prior to the game as they did the same thing with him as they did with Norris, so a roster move will need to be made prior to the game. First pitch tonight is at 10:05 p.m. EST.
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