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Norris, O's stumble in Wild Card pursuit

Right-hander allows four runs over 4 1/3; Jones hits 31st homer

BALTIMORE -- The 2013 Orioles have lots of power and love the long ball. They often live by the big home runs that break open an inning and the other team's spirit.

But the Orioles can't seem to get it done at other times. They're still trying to figure out how to get hits with runners in scoring position. It's a problem that's plagued them in recent weeks and came up again Sunday, a big reason the White Sox pulled out a 4-2 victory at Camden Yards.

The victory ended Chicago's nine-game losing streak and prevented the Orioles (76-67) from finishing a four-game sweep. Plus, the Orioles lost ground in their pursuit of the second American League Wild Card spot. The Orioles and Indians, who lost to the Mets, dropped to two games behind the Rays, who beat the Mariners. They Yankees, who open a four-game series in Baltimore on Monday, beat the Red Sox on Sunday to remain 2 1/2 games back the Rays.

The Orioles went 0-for-11 with runners in scoring position and left eight on base. In addition, they finished the series 3-for-37 in that area and have gone only 5-for-54 in the last six games. So how did they win three of four in this series? Seven solo homers sure helped, but they've got to find a way to get hits those other times.

"I think everybody's aware of what we're doing with runners in scoring position, or what we're not doing," Chris Davis said. "I think we just kind of put a little bit too much pressure on ourselves. One of the things I said earlier this year, we were really good last year because we were really enjoying ourselves and having fun. I think that's something we have to get back to."

Adam Jones took a bit of a different look at the situation. He said the Orioles are at least creating the scoring chances, and that's a positive.

They've just got finish the job.

"There's a team on the other side that's competing against us and trying to beat our brains in just as much as we're trying to beat their brains in," Jones said. "We created the opportunity. Obviously, you want the runs, but, hey, we're putting ourselves in good position. You've got to be strong-minded through that."

The Orioles threatened several times but couldn't come through. All they got was Jones' homer in the fourth and Ryan Flaherty's run-scoring fielder's choice in the ninth.

That final inning proved kind of symbolic of the team's frustration. Matt Wieters walked, Nick Markakis singled and J.J. Hardy then walked to load the bases with no outs against White Sox closer Addison Reed. Flaherty grounded into a 3-6 force play to make it 4-2 and put runners at first and third.

Chris Dickerson came on to run for Flaherty and took off with Brian Roberts up. Roberts popped into foul territory behind first, and second baseman Leury Garcia caught the ball. But Dickerson did not pick up the ball's location and started his slide into second. The White Sox then had no trouble doubling him up, ending the ballgame.

"[Shortstop Alexei] Ramirez deked at second like he was anticipating the ball coming to second, and I was already in the position where I had to slide anyways," Dickerson said. "By that time, I was too far past. You can only go so far."

That ended a frustrating afternoon. Starter Bud Norris (4-2) lasted just 4 1/3 innings, giving up four runs on nine hits. The White Sox stayed patient and forced Norris to throw 100 pitches in that short time.

Dayan Viciedo's double to left-center scored Conor Gillaspie all the way from first for a 1-0 lead in the second. They made it 2-0 in the fourth when Alejandro De Aza got an RBI infield single.

Jones then cut the lead in half with his homer to center in the bottom of the inning. He golfed a low pitch from starter Andre Rienzo (2-1) over the right-center-field fence to make it 2-1. That was Baltimore's seventh solo homer of this series, but the Orioles couldn't get anything else off Rienzo, who threw 6 2/3 strong innings to help the White Sox (57-85) win.

Chicago's biggest hit also came off Norris, a two-run homer from Adam Dunn in the fifth that made it 4-1. 

"Nobody likes losing," White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. "I don't know if it takes any monkey off your back because the record still stinks. There was a lot of good things today."

Orioles manager Buck Showalter said he wanted his players to relax a bit. This four-game series came after a tough nine-game road trip. Up next are the Yankees, starting Monday at Camden Yards, and the skipper wants his guys to forget Sunday's game.

"[We need to] turn the page," Showalter said. "We've got a very tough foe coming in here and tough behind that and behind that and behind that. If somebody said three out of four, would you take it? We crept back within a game. We'll take another pop at it tomorrow."

Jeff Seidel is a contributor to
Read More: Baltimore Orioles, Adam Jones, Bud Norris