"We don't back down, that's our thing," first baseman Chris Davis, who was hit in the top of the six inning, said of the exchange involving Matt Wieters and David Ross in the bottom of the seventh. "We have each other's backs. If somebody wants to run their mouth, we'll stand up to them."
That someone was Ross, who started jawing at Wieters when the O's catcher stood in front of him after Ross took exception to a few inside pitches from Norris.
"I think he said 'Bud, man' or 'Bud,' and then he said, 'Make an adjustment,'" Norris said of what Ross yelled to him. "And I said, 'Excuse me?' And that's all I said. And that's right when Wieters stepped in. I kind of smiled and brushed it off. I knew that I was out there to pitch and pitch from there."
Norris said repeatedly he wasn't trying to hit Ross with the game on the line, and both dugouts emptied as Wieters and Ross started jawing.
"Ross just got upset with a couple balls that just slipped, that got away," Wieters said. "Two of them were sliders, and more than anything, I don't want anybody talking to the pitcher from the other team. He stopped, and we got settled. Then we just didn't score enough runs to win the game."
After the Orioles were issued a warning -- which both Norris and manager Buck Showalter called unfair -- Norris struck out Ross for the first out of the inning. But Brock Holt sent a ball deep into center field to score Mike Carp, who reached on a leadoff walk, and chase Norris from the game.
"There was a warning issued to us because of David's reaction," Showalter said. "Maybe we should have reacted when Chris got hit with a 2-0 fastball from [Red Sox starter Felix] Doubront in a one-run game. But we don't react."
Ross admitted after the game he overreacted a little bit and said he was sensitive to balls around his head given that he had two concussions last year.
"Yeah, I was telling [Wieters] where I was at, and he was telling me where he was at; I definitely don't think it was on purpose, just a natural reaction, three balls at my head," Ross said. "I probably shouldn't have yelled at the pitcher."
The loss drops Baltimore (8-8) to 15-7 at Fenway Park since Showalter took over, and it cost Norris a chance at his first win in a commendable 6 1/3-inning outing. Coming off an impressive seven scoreless innings against Toronto, Norris pitched better than his final line indicated and was charged with another run as Jonathan Herrera put down a textbook sacrifice bunt that first baseman Davis shoveled home too late, allowing Boston to push its lead to two.
"It happened so quickly that, looking back, there are a couple things I wish I could have done differently," Davis said of the play. "I thought of maybe trying to dive and tag him, but when I realized I wasn't going to get there, I just flipped it to him. Tip your hat. He got the bunt down. That's why he's tough to defend."
Both of the O's runs off Doubront came courtesy of Nelson Cruz, including an overturned call after a replay challenge in the sixth. The O's, who were one of the last two teams in baseball to use their first challenge, made it worth the wait. After a two-out double, Adam Jones stole third before Davis was hit by a pitch to bring on Cruz. The veteran hit a ball deep into the hole at third base, and Holt backhanded the ball before throwing across the diamond for a close play in which Cruz was initially ruled to be out at first base.
Showalter came out and challenged the call, with the replay taking 49 seconds before it was overturned, allowing Jones to score from third to tie the game at 2. The sixth-inning run also marked the 500th RBI of Cruz's career.
"We've had about 10 or 11 that [replay coordinator Adam Gladstone] has been right about, too," Showalter said. "Just because you didn't challenge doesn't mean he's been wrong. I asked Adam at the end, I go, 'How did that feel?' And he goes, 'Real good.' It's a process that worked out for us."
Wieters then reached on an error to load the bases, but Doubront got J.J. Hardy to fly out to end the inning. Cruz put the O's on the board with a first-inning single to score Nick Markakis, and the left fielder now has a team-leading 11 RBIs.
Boston scored a first-inning run as well on third baseman Jonathan Schoop's error on a potential double-play ball, with Mike Napoli's grounder instead scoring Dustin Pedroia. It marked just the fourth error of the season for the O's, three of which belong to the rookie Schoop, and Norris responded by retiring the next seven straight before David Ortiz gave Boston a temporary lead with a homer to open the fourth. Norris didn't allow another run until the fateful seventh.
"I'm definitely not trying to get [Ross] right there," Norris reiterated. "There may be a point down the road where you're trying to get somebody, but that wasn't it, and I think he should know better. But Wieters being the force that he is back there, it was great for him to step up and say something. And as a catcher, these guys have a better IQ of the game, and I think Wiety knew what was going on and he stood right in front of him, which was great. That gave me an opportunity to calm down and get back on the mound and pitch from there."
Norris exited in favor of Evan Meek after Holt's hit, and Ryan Webb navigated through a scoreless eighth. Doubront exited the game after a two-out walk to Markakis in the seventh, with manager John Farrell calling on Junichi Tazawa to retire Delmon Young. Tazawa recorded four outs before handing it off to Boston's closer Koji Uehara, who notched his fourth save.