Baseball / Sports

Baltimore Orioles starting pitcher Bud Norris delivers against the Pittsburgh Pirates in the first game of a double header at Oriole Park at Camden Yards in Baltimore, Thursday., May 1, 2014. The Orioles defeated the Pirates, 5-1. (Karl Merton Ferron/Baltimore Sun/MCT)

After three days off, Orioles beat Pirates in first game of doubleheader

BALTIMORE -- And on the fourth day, the Orioles played. And won.

After a scheduled day off Monday, followed by consecutive rainouts Tuesday and Wednesday -- the first time they've been postponed consecutively since 2004, and the first time it has happened at Camden Yards since 2000 -- the Orioles and the Pittsburgh Pirates finally played baseball Thursday.

It wasn't without a 21-minute rain delay between the fourth and fifth innings, but ultimately, the Orioles played a full nine innings, beating the Pirates, 5-1, in the first game of a straight doubleheader that had to be scheduled on a mutual day off.

"I think, for the entire roster, it's not easy to put into words," said Orioles right-hander Bud Norris, who pitched with six days' rest. "It does show the testament of our club and how we are going to strap it on. ... It says a lot about the culture (of the club) and everything else. I knew today was going to be tough after the last two days with the rain."

The Orioles (13-12) were supposed to begin their second game -- which would mark third baseman Manny Machado's season debut -- within 30 minutes of the end of the first game. But Orioles right-hander Chris Tillman's first pitch in the nightcap was delayed 46 minutes because of rain.

"Tilly and I had to prepare for that," said Norris (2-2), who allowed one earned run in 51/3 innings. "Even with the rain delay and everything else, you have to go out there and compete and stay strong."

The Orioles' offense was paced by the club's poster boy for staying strong and waiting things out: first baseman Steve Pearce, who hadn't played a major league game since April 13. The 17-day layoff didn't seem to bother him.

After going 1-for-7 before being released and re-signed this week, Pearce singled in his first three at-bats against the Pirates, the club that originally drafted him. It was Pearce's first three-hit game since June 9 and the first time he had multiple RBIs since Sept. 28.

"Stevie gave us a real lift. Made a couple nice plays at first, too. Stevie was a big contributor," Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. "Great example of players having an opportunity of deciding where they want to play. He wants to play. We're thankful that he did."

The Orioles were shut down for four innings against Pittsburgh right-hander Charlie Morton (0-4), before sending nine batters to the plate in the inning following the rain delay in the first game.

Delmon Young, starting for the first time since April 22, singled to start the fifth inning. Steve Clevenger walked and J.J. Hardy attempted a sacrifice bunt that Pirates third baseman Pedro Alvarez fielded before bouncing his throw. It brought Pearce to the plate with the bases loaded and no outs.

It was a moment Pearce had been waiting for patiently -- for more than a week, if not all season. He was taken off the roster April 22 and was in limbo until re-signing with the Orioles on Tuesday to, essentially, play first base until Chris Davis comes off the disabled list. Pearce had been claimed by the Toronto Blue Jays on Tuesday, but he rejected the claim to re-join the Orioles.

"I don't know if you'll ever see it again. Maybe in Baltimore," Showalter said of Pearce's odyssey this week. "They like playing with each other. It's a testament to the culture those guys have created for each other."

Pearce had singled in his first at-bat in the third inning, but there was more at stake in the fifth. And he succeeded, knocking Morton's 92-mph sinker into left field to tie the game. Ryan Flaherty followed with a two-run single, also to left, to complete a three-run fifth for the Orioles.

"It says that (Pearce) knows how to hit. It says that he is a competitor. He has been through this process before and the transactions and everything else," Norris said. "It just gives him the capability to go out and play. He knows that he wants to be here, as we all can see. And it was just really good to see him have three hits and the RBIs. And I'm sure he is smiling right now."

Pearce added a run-scoring single in the sixth to chase Morton, who allowed four runs (two earned) in 51/3 innings. Morton has picked up the loss in each of his past four outings while the Pirates (10-17) have now dropped 14 of their past 18 games.

Nick Markakis homered for the first time this season, taking Pirates reliever Jeanmar Gomez deep to right-center field for a solo shot in the seventh.

The Pirates scored first when Jose Tabata tripled against Norris to lead off the third. Norris retired the next two batters before Alvarez singled to make it 1-0.

The Orioles right-hander didn't give up a run throughout the rest of the outing, scattering seven hits and one walk while hitting two batters and striking out three in a 105-pitch effort. The Pirates, as a team, left 13 on base while going 1-for-14 with runners in scoring position.

"Early in the game, late in the game, you have to make big pitches," Norris said. "Guys made the plays behind me. That was nice to see and get a 'W' and get out of there."

Five Orioles relievers combined for 32/3 scoreless innings to guarantee the first-game victory. Tommy Hunter was needed to get one out -- a strikeout -- with runners on the corners in the ninth for his seventh save of the season.

The afternoon game also included the Orioles' first replay challenge at Camden Yards.

With a runner on second and one out in the top of the second inning, Norris appeared to hit Pittsburgh's Tony Sanchez with a pitch. But replays showed the ball actually struck the knob of Sanchez's bat before ricocheting to his leg.

Showalter challenged, and after a delay of 3 minutes and 29 seconds, the call was overturned and Sanchez had to return to the plate. He then lined out.

The Orioles' only other replay challenge this year came April 19 in Boston, when Nelson Cruz was ruled out at first base before the call was overturned on review.

In between games Thursday, though, Showalter was focusing primarily on how his team -- and particularly his pitching staff -- stayed sharp with the difficult schedule it has endured.

"When you're off six days like Bud is and was ... and (for the) bullpen to pitch that well after that much time off, is a real testament to the work they put in during the rainouts and what have you," Showalter said. "This is weird, just strange. ... We had our All-Star break."

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ORIOLES


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