Swihart helps power split Sox past host Orioles

Knuckleballer Wright works two strong innings in first spring start

Swihart helps power split Sox past host Orioles

SARASOTA, Fla. -- The 2014 season was a memorable one for Baltimore Orioles right-hander Bud Norris. Norris' first start of the 2015 Grapefruit League season was one he'd rather forget.

Norris was roughed up for four runs on four hits, including a towering three-run homer off the bat of catcher Blake Swihart, as the Red Sox split-squad recorded a 7-6 victory over the O's before 8,526 fans at Ed Smith Stadium on Saturday.

Five of the first six hitters Norris faced reached safely, with a single by leadoff hitter Jackie Bradley Jr., a run-scoring triple by Jemile Weeks and a walk by Allen Craig preceding the roundtripper by Swihart, currently the top-ranked caching prospect in baseball, per MLB.com.

"A couple of those fastballs weren't in enough on the plate," said Norris of his rocky first outing. "They put some good swings on it. Getting out healthy was the number one component, and I'm OK with that."

Norris struggled with his command throughout his one inning of work, throwing 15 strikes and 15 balls.

"Probably going a hair too fast, kind of putting the training wheels back on and trying to get yourself comfortable out there," Norris said.

Norris' counterpart, Red Sox knuckleballer Steven Wright, turned in an impressive performance in two innings of work for Boston. With only 34 innings of big league experience under his belt, the 30-year-old right-hander allowed one unearned run on two hits against a collection of likely Opening Day Orioles starters, striking out two while walking none.

Despite the blustery conditions at the ballpark, Wright showed superb command throughout his 28-pitch outing, throwing 19 strikes against 9 balls. All but one of his offerings was a knuckleball.  

"Any time you're able to go out there and throw that many strikes, especially against a lineup like Baltimore's, it's definitely something I can build off of," said Wright after his first outing of the spring.

"For me, it's about staying under control over the rubber and keeping the rhythm and the timing," Wright added. "If I can do that consistently, I can put myself in a position to make a quality pitch."

Red Sox right fielder Bryce Brentz lined a solo homer to right in the fourth inning, marking the third time in as many visits to Ed Smith Stadium that he has homered off Orioles pitching.

Former Baltimore prospect Eduardo Rodriguez pitched three perfect innings for Boston, recording three strikeouts and no walks.

Chris Davis knocked in two runs for the Orioles, one with a first-inning single off Wright, and another with a sacrifice fly off Edwin Escobar in the sixth. Baltimore added three runs in the ninth, all scoring on a Daniel Alvarez homer, to end the scoring.

Up next: Right-hander Rick Porcello, acquired in December for Yoenis Cespedes, makes his debut in Sunday's 1:05 p.m. ET game against the Mets in Port St. Lucie. Starting catcher Christian Vazquez is on the traveling squad, along with shortstop Xander Bogaerts. The game can be seen live on MLB.TV and heard live with Gameday Audio.

Michael Kolligian is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.