Behind seven strong innings from Bud Norris and big days at the plate from Matt Wieters and Nate McLouth, the Baltimore Orioles claimed the opener of a key three-game series with the Cleveland Indians with a 7-2 decision at Progressive Field.
Norris (10-10) yielded just four hits while striking out eight, taking a shutout into the seventh inning that was spoiled by Jason Kipnis' solo home run. Wieters led the offense with four hits, including a two-run homer in the ninth that capped the win.
"I just had a great plan with Wieters," Norris said of his batterymate. "A lot of credit goes to him."
McLouth had a homer and three RBI among his two hits, and was robbed of a third after Nick Markakis missed second base on a would-be run-scoring double in the top of the second.
Brian Roberts added a two-run double to the victory, which moved the Orioles within two games of Tampa Bay for the AL's second wild card spot pending the Rays' outcome on Monday.
Cleveland received solo blasts from Kipnis and Lonnie Chisenhall, but got only an inning-plus from Justin Masterson (14-10) before the Indians' ace was removed with soreness in his left side.
The loss, Cleveland's sixth in seven outings, dropped the Tribe 1 1/2 games behind the Orioles in the race.
Masterson received a visit from the Indians' team trainer during Wieters' at- bat to begin the second inning, which ended with the Baltimore catcher driving a single to left. The towering right-hander threw two more pitches to ensuing hitter Markakis before being replaced by Preston Guilmet in the middle of the at-bat.
"It stinks to see Justin go down that quick," Guilmet said. "It's one of those situations that arise and you have to handle them."
Markakis wound up reaching on a single, and McLouth sent a deep drive to center field two batters later that brought in Wieters for the game's first run. Markakis was ruled to have missed second base on the play, however, with McLouth instead credited with a fielder's choice as a result of the baserunning miscue.
After Guilmet walked Alexi Casilla, Roberts sent both runners home with a double into the gap in right center that gave Baltimore an early 3-0 lead.
McLouth wouldn't be denied a hit in his next trip to the plate, however. With J.J. Hardy aboard in the fourth, the outfielder drilled a Nick Hagadone pitch five rows deep into the right-field stands to provide Norris with a five-run cushion.
That was plenty for Norris, who held the Indians to just one hit over the opening five innings and had set down 10 straight batters before Chisenhall doubled to open the bottom of the sixth and was eventually left stranded.
Kipnis finally got Cleveland on the board by depositing Norris' offering over the wall in right center to start the bottom of the seventh. Chisenhall cut the deficit to 5-2 by greeting Tommy Hunter with a homer of his own an inning later.
Wieters helped erase any Indians' comeback hopes, however, with a two-out shot off Marc Rzepczynski in the top of the ninth. Manny Machado, who led off the inning with a single, scored on his teammate's 20th home run of the season.
Norris improved to 4-0 in seven starts since being acquired by the Orioles from Houston at the July 31 trade deadline. Baltimore has won six of those assignments ... Indians outfielder Michael Brantley went 3-for-4 to extend his hitting streak to seven games ... Cleveland has now lost eight of its last 11 games at Progressive Field ... The Orioles improved to 17-11 in day games held on the road this season.