Jones' two homers propel Norris, O's at Big A

Right-hander strikes out eight in 6 2/3 innings in return to rotation

Jones' two homers propel Norris, O's at Big A

ANAHEIM -- When Adam Jones accepted the invitation to participate in this year's Home Run Derby, there wasn't a whole lot of concern from manager Buck Showalter about Jones ruining his second-half swing.

If anything, it's gotten better. Jones showcased his power stroke Monday night in Anaheim, going deep twice -- and for the third time in three games -- to post a four-RBI game that lifted the Orioles to a series-opening 4-2 win over the Angels.

"I think that's a little stretch there," Showalter said of the notion that Jones benefited from participating in the Derby. "It was an ideal situation in the Home Run Derby. I wanted him to not get eliminated in the first round and stop. It worked out great. Adam does that all year long."

Starter Bud Norris also showed the same prowess he had most of the first half, going 6 2/3 innings -despite getting drilled early in the right ankle -- to help the first-place O's increase their American League East lead to four.

Baltimore -- which has hit a Major League-leading 121 homers this year -- has won 13 of its last 19 road games and is 13-8 against the AL West this season, including a 2-2 mark on its current three-city West Coast road trip.

"You have to step up to the challenge sometimes," Norris said of shutting down an Angels team that entered the day as the top-scoring team in the Majors and averages at least five runs per game. "That's a great lineup over there. They've been swinging the bats extremely well. They've got the second-best record in baseball. I've pitched pretty good [here] a couple times. So I just wanted to get back out there and pitch. Nothing happens until you get out there."

Norris, who worked out of a bases-loaded jam in the fourth inning, improved to 4-0 with a 0.53 ERA in six career starts against the Angels and said staying on track with a Minor League start last week helped him get back into a rhythm.

"I was pretty excited to get back," said Norris, who made his first Major League start since July 9. "It's hard to watch these games on the couch. So to come back and have a good performance and for us to get a win is big. I just want to pick up where I left off."

Jones, who has nine RBIs since the All-Star break, has been able to carry over an impressive start to the month. The 28-year-old put the Orioles up on a first-inning blast off Angels rookie starter Matt Shoemaker, driving in Nick Markakis' game-opening single for his 18th homer of the year.

Shoemaker, who tied a career high with 10 strikeouts, retired 15 straight after that with Markakis' sixth-inning double setting the stage again for Jones. This time, Jones sent a 1-1 slider into left-center field for a two-out shot before Nelson Cruz followed with a single to chase Shoemaker from the game.

"Had an idea of what he does but no one has seen him," Jones said of his approach against Shoemaker. "Go up there and the best way is trial and error."

Jones' two swings were all Norris would need as the righty, who was drilled in the foot by a Hank Conger single in the second inning, struck out eight and allowed two runs (one earned) on eight hits and two walks.

At 89 pitches to start the seventh, Norris recorded the first two outs -- including the second strikeout of Mike Trout -- before exiting after walking Albert Pujols. Norris, who turned in his longest outing since June 14, was replaced by lefty Brian Matusz, who struck out Josh Hamilton.

"His command was real good," Showalter said of Norris. "I'm glad he went to [Double-A] Bowie and got his pitch count up to 100 with a little prodding. He was very effective. He's pitched well here. Had some big innings. Everybody did their job out of the bullpen."

Righty Darren O'Day tossed a scoreless eighth inning and closer Zach Britton picked up his 17th save in 20 opportunities after taking Erick Aybar's ball off his right arm. Britton, a left-hander, said he lost feeling on the inside of his arm but was able to record the out and stayed on to finish off the game after a visit from Showalter and head athletic trainer Richie Bancells.

"Yeah, I have a lot of family here, so [Buck] was like, 'What would your dad say right now?,'" Britton said. "He'd probably say, 'Meet me in the parking lot after the game. Let's do some [pitchers' fielding practice].'"

Given that the injury in on his non-throwing arm, Britton wasn't worried about it affecting his availability for the rest of the series, which is good news for the Orioles. The Angels have won 25 of their last 31 home games and have set a club record with 10 consecutive home series wins.

"They've got a potent lineup and you're just picking your poison all the way through there," Showalter said. "Shoemaker was good. What'd we strike out, 15 times? I think we struck out 10 of theirs [11. actually], didn't we? You get a lot of borderline calls go your way. Sometimes they do. Sometimes they don't."

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