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Norris Pitches 3 Shutout Innings, Orioles Beat Red Sox 7-3

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(Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)

(Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)

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1057topper Norris Pitches 3 Shutout Innings, Orioles Beat Red Sox 7 3

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SARASOTA, Fla. (AP) — Bud Norris pitched three shutout innings in his second start of the spring, and the Baltimore Orioles beat the Boston Red Sox 7-3 on Saturday in the first of two split squad games between the teams.

The Red Sox were to host the Orioles in Fort Myers on Saturday night.

Norris, the leading contender to be the Orioles’ No. 5 starter, allowed two hits and struck out four. In his first start on Monday, Norris gave up one hit in two shutout innings.

“I thought the change-up with Bud was good. That was good to see. That could really help him,” manager Buck Showalter said.

Rookie left-handed starter Henry Owens gave up three runs and five hits in 2 1-3 innings for Boston.

Alex Gonzalez hit a two-run home run in a four-run sixth for the Orioles.

Will Middlebrooks’ fourth inning homer off Tommy Hunter gave the Red Sox their first run.

Norris’ spot could be in jeopardy if Baltimore signs free agent pitcher Ervin Santana. The Orioles are reportedly one of a number of suitors for him.

Asked before the game if he and Dan Duquette, the team’s executive vice president of baseball operations, had discussed Santana on Saturday, Showalter answered: “You trying to make me lie? Yes.”

Showalter then changed subjects.

STARTING TIME: Red Sox manager John Farrell was eager to look at Owens, who was Boston’s first-round draft choice in 2011. Owens’ highest professional experience was six starts for Double-A Portland, where he was 3-1 with a 1.78 ERA last year.

“These are extremely valuable opportunities to see a young pitcher, away from what they become familiar with, that is our home ballpark,” Farrell said.

TRAINER’S ROOM: Shane Victorino has yet to play this spring. Farrell hopes he gets on the field early next week. Victorino has been held out because of offseason surgery on his right thumb. He is also strengthening his groin muscles.

When Victorino returns, it might be exclusively as a right-handed hitter.

“It’s almost going to be a game-time decision,” Farrell said.

Victorino gave up switch-hitting in August because he said it hurt his back and hamstring.

“The right side has always been his strong side,” Farrell said. “I think last year his production against right-handed pitching probably has enabled him to be a little bit more open-minded to getting the majority of at-bats from that side of the plate.”

Catcher A.J. Pierzynski, who hasn’t played since Monday because of a left ankle injury, was slated to start Saturday night’s game.

Right-handed pitcher Jake Peavy (left index finger), who has yet to pitch this year, should start on Thursday.

Left-handed pitcher Craig Breslow is still a few days away from throwing, Farrell said. He is trying to regulate Breslow’s workload after extensive use in the postseason last year.

Orioles right-hander Miguel Gonzalez was fine one day after taking a ball off the left shin. Philadelphia’s Cameron Rupp lined a ball at Gonzalez, who immediately left the game.

“That’s probably been the hardest ball hit back at me,” Gonzalez said. “Hopefully it doesn’t happen to me again. It was scary.”

Baltimore infielder Alexi Casilla, who hasn’t played this spring because of a strained right hamstring, hoped to play this weekend, but will sit out until at least Monday, he said.

SHOWALTER DOESN’T CARE: Showalter stacked his lineup with regulars, and then took a few to Fort Myers for Saturday night’s game. It didn’t bother him that the Red Sox sent few regulars along.

“I could care less who they bring over here to play today,” Showalter said.

(Copyright 2013 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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