Norris records 1,000th strikeout in stellar start

Righty turns in best outing since joining Dodgers

Norris records 1,000th strikeout in stellar start

LOS ANGELES -- Dodger Stadium might not have seen a fully rested Bud Norris in Tuesday's 3-2 win over the Rays, but it did see as good a version as it could have hoped for when the organization traded for him in June.

Norris turned in his best outing since his debut with the Dodgers, throwing 6 1/3 shutout innings while allowing two hits and striking out six.

"You got to locate pitches, it's not easy," Norris said. "I mentioned it last time, my start in DC. Once the ball leaves your hand, you're out of control of the play. I made some better pitches tonight and [catcher Yasmani Grandal] did a great job behind the plate."

This all comes two days after Norris threw 23 pitches out of the bullpen and gave up a walkoff homer in St. Louis. Norris said that the extra work didn't affect him Tuesday, but it was mentioned as a factor in his hook in the seventh inning.

After walking Steve Pearce with one out, Norris stood at 104 pitches with the left-handed Kevin Kiermaier up to bat. Manager Dave Roberts opted to replace Norris with southpaw J.P. Howell.

"It wasn't until about that fifth inning where he hit his stride and he was feeling really good," Roberts said. "The pitch count was up there and just seeing what he did for in St. Louis, two days removed from throwing in that game, where he was at, he gave us everything he had. At that point, I wanted to get the lefty on him to get him out of that game."

While it was Kiermaier that forced Norris out, it was an at-bat featuring the two in the fourth inning that gave Norris a major milestone for his eight-year career: 1,000 strikeouts. He is one of 49 active players to reach the mark and the fourth currently on the Dodgers. The others are Clayton Kershaw, Scott Kazmir, and Joe Blanton.

"It means a lot to me, my family, my dad, my grandpa, a lot of people that helped me along the way," Norris said. "I'll definitely get emotional about it tonight, but right now I'm pretty excited about it. Just a testament to how hard I've worked in my career. This isn't easy for any of us, I promise you."

While he might have passed a significant milestone, Roberts believes quite a few more strikeouts could be on the way.

"I still believe the best of Bud Norris, we're going to see," Roberts said. "Tonight, he was really good. I still think, and he'll say this too, there's even more in there. For him to come here, he wanted to be a Dodger, and give us a huge lift, he expects that from himself and us the same."

Jack Baer is a reporter for MLB.com based in Los Angeles. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.