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BAL@TOR: Norris throws six strong innings

After back-to-back rainouts, the Pirates and the Orioles will try to make up both contests on Thursday with an old-fashioned single-admission doubleheader beginning at 4:05 p.m. ET.

Orioles pitcher Bud Norris, who will start Game 1, left the Pirates with two nice parting gifts as he and the Astros exited the National League at the conclusion of the 2012 season. Norris gave up only two runs in 13 innings against Pittsburgh, recording two quality starts.

A trade to Baltimore from Houston and the Pirates' first postseason appearance since 1992 later, Norris will again take the hill against Pittsburgh after battling right hamstring issues that plagued him during his most recent start.

"Kind of tweaked it, but it wasn't really that big of a deal," Norris said following the game. "Just stretched it in between innings, and I was OK from there."

Norris will pitch opposite Pittsburgh starter Charlie Morton, who is still searching for his second career Interleague victory.

Morton has not earned a win against an American League opponent since his MLB debut, when the Braves defeated the Angels, 9-4, on June 14, 2008. Despite recording quality starts in four of his first five outings this season, Morton has been unlucky. The Pirates are hamstrung by offensive woes as they boast one of the least productive lineups in the Majors. Morton's average run support of 3.4 has the right-hander tied for 76th in the Majors.

Meanwhile, the Orioles are scoring 5.25 runs a game in support of Norris.

Chris Tillman, who will start Game 2 for Baltimore, earned a victory in his most recent start, a 10-8 win against the Blue Jays, despite surrendering seven earned runs.

Pittsburgh entered Wednesday ranked 27th with a .221 (197-for-890) team batting average and 25th with 96 runs scored. The Pirates have scored two runs or fewer in six of their past eight games.

One of those games was Brandon Cumpton's most recent start, a 2-1 loss to the Reds on April 24. He will take the hill for Thursday's second game opposite Tillman.

Despite giving up only two runs on four hits in seven innings, the right-hander took a hard-luck loss in place of the injured Wandy Rodriguez. The runs he surrendered ended a streak of scoreless innings at 20 2/3, dating back to July 30.

Cumpton needs to work on pitching inside without hitting batters. He plunked three Reds in his previous start, something that "irritated" Cincinnati manager Bryan Price.

"He pitched in, with conviction," Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said. "He used his changeup to both sides of the plate, the slider played right-on-right. He's committed to pitching in, and a couple got in too much … but you can't have it both ways."

Pirates: McCutchen showing patience
Not eager to face the National League's reigning Most Valuable Player, most pitchers are content with sticking Andrew McCutchen on first base. He entered Wednesday ranked fourth in the Majors with 21 walks in 120 plate appearances.

McCutchen walked only eight times in 107 plate appearances last April.

The walks, combined with a .286 (28-for-98) batting average that is vastly better than his .247 (24-for-97) clip last April, have helped him post an on-base percentage of .408, which ranks 12th in the Majors.

Orioles: Tillman aims to put tough second behind him
• The second inning of Tillman's most recent start is perhaps the worst the right-hander has looked. Nine consecutive batters reached base to begin the frame, as the only out recorded was a fielder's choice. Six runs crossed the plate.

In all, 11 batters came to the plate in an inning that saw Tillman throw 35 pitches. Despite the tumultuous frame, Tillman went on to pitch 5 2/3 innings and earn his third win of the season in a 10-8 Orioles victory over the Blue Jays.

Despite the tumultuous inning, which required Baltimore's largest comeback of the season, Orioles manager Buck Showalter ultimately seemed happy with Tillman's showing.

"In a lot of ways it might have been one of his best outings this year, the way we perceive it," Showalter said. "He doesn't get involved in ERA and whatever. He wants to just give his team the chance to win. I came real close to taking him out there, and I told [pitching coach Dave Wallace], let's see the first couple hitters and see how it goes, and he came out with a little more stuff. He gave us some needed innings."

Worth noting
• Only four Pirates have faced Tillman. Russell Martin is 2-for-3 against the right-hander with a double, a walk and an RBI.

• Current Orioles are batting .471 (8-for-17) against Morton. J.J. Hardy leads the pack with three hits, and Delmon Young has a home run in three career at-bats against the Pirates right-hander. Comments