Baltimore bats continue upswing in Texas

Markakis homers, singles in go-ahead run; O's pound out 13 hits

Baltimore bats continue upswing in Texas

ARLINGTON -- Even a behemoth performance from Adrian Beltre couldn't stop the Orioles Wednesday night.

In fact, if Baltimore's offense -- which showed signs of coming to life in Houston last weekend -- keeps this up, the O's may want to stay in Texas forever. The Orioles pounded out 13 hits on Wednesday -- giving them 50 total over a four-game winning streak -- to cover for an injury-shortened start by Bud Norris and a five-RBI night from Beltre.

The 6-5 victory gives the O's 27 runs during the win streak and is the kind of impressive firepower Oriole fans have been waiting for since the spring. Buoyed by two RBIs from Nick Markakis -- who knocked in the go-ahead run in the sixth -- and Adam Jones, the Orioles also got an encouraging sign from slumping slugger Chris Davis, who turned in his eighth homer this season.

"We just keep grinding through the road trip," manager Buck Showalter said of his club, which split a four-game set in Houston. " I've said 100 times about trusting the track record and it will happen. It's just too many good players with good skills. It's just kind of frustrating because you want it to be there every night and as much as you work toward it to be perfect, it's not always that way."

Baltimore (30-27) is one game shy of its season-high winning streak and improved to 5-4 on the three-city trip with one more left to play in a grueling stretch of 35 of the first 58 games on the road.

"Everybody's been having good at-bats up here," said Markakis, who also homered in the third inning and worked a pair of walks. "It seems like when they've been throwing it over the plate, we've been putting good swings on it. We've been able to find the hole and find the gap. We don't need to change anything. We need to do exactly what we're doing now and continue what we're doing."

Tied at 5, the Orioles pulled ahead on Markakis' two-out sixth-inning single off reliever Aaron Poreda. After Jonathan Schoop worked a leadoff walk and David Lough singled, Caleb Joseph's sacrifice bunt attempt -- which cut down the lead runner instead -- ended starter Nick Martinez's night in favor of the lefty Poreda. Lough was caught stealing third base for the second out, but Markakis picked his team up, sending a pitch into left-field for his 21st RBI.

"That's the thing about left-right [matchups]," Showalter said of the left-handed hitting Markakis, who is hitting .333 against lefties. "It doesn't really matter with Nick. There's so few left-handed hitters that can do that. He's one of three or four in baseball that left-right doesn't matter."

The O's rotation, which had also fared better as of late, saw Norris exit early with a right forearm contusion in one of his worst outings of the season.

Norris, who has pitched well for the O's, was struck with Mitch Moreland's two-out liner in the fifth inning after failing to get a glove on it, and was in immediate pain as head athletic trainer Richie Bancells and Showalter came out to check on him. Norris stayed in after a few warmup pitches, but served up a game-tying three-run homer to the following batter, Beltre, who delivered his second long ball of the night.

"He's on fire," Norris said of Beltre, who has 18 homers in his last 10 games against Baltimore. "He's obviously one of the best hitters in the game. I obviously wanted to get that last out there in the fifth and get ahead in the count. He hit both balls to right-center field and when he's locked in, especially hitting the ball that way, you got to tip your cap."

Norris -- who had allowed just one home run over his previous three starts coming in -- tied a season-high in runs allowed (5) and a season low in innings in the 99-pitch effort. As expected, his forearm didn't feel too rosy post-game.

"[It's] pretty sore," Norris said. "You never want to get smoked by a comebacker but the trainers will look at it the next couple days and get rid of the swelling as best I can."

Norris was replaced by lefty T.J. McFarland, who recorded five outs before righty Darren O'Day came on to retire Beltre in the seventh. O'Day also pitched the eighth and Zach Britton recorded his fifth save in six tries, improving to just three runs allowed in 30 2/3 innings this season.

The O's, who capitalized on a two-base error from shortstop Luis Sardinas to score a first-inning run, used Sardinas' second error to turn in a three-run third. Following Markakis' homer, Jones -- fresh off Tuesday's four-hit night -- singled in Machado and J.J. Hardy's sacrifice fly made it 4-2.

"I don't feel good at all," Sardinas said of his play. "We're all here to contribute to win and I did exactly the contrary. I wanted to help the win but the error cost me two runs and that cost us a game."

And it guaranteed the Orioles will avoid a losing road trip when they wearily board a plane back to Baltimore late Thursday night.

"It's a long road trip and if you come out .500, especially against the teams that we're playing, it's definitely a positive thing," Markakis said. "Eleven-day road trips are tough. We're still plugging away. We've still got a lot baseball left and I want to see how it plays out."

Brittany Ghiroli is a reporter for Read her blog, Britt's Bird Watch, and follow her on Twitter @britt_ghiroli. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.