CLEVELAND - The Baltimore Orioles lead the major leagues in home runs, and the two they hit Monday provided most of the runs in their 7-2 win over the Cleveland Indians.
Nate McLouth hit his 10th home run in the fourth inning, and Matt Wieters hit his 20th in the ninth inning, Wieters' fourth hit of the game. Both were two-run homers as the Orioles won an important game between two American League wild-card contenders.
Coming into the game, the Orioles were third in the wild-card standings, three games out of the second wild-card spot, while Cleveland was fourth, 3 1/2 games out of that second wild-card slot.
Orioles starter Bud Norris (4-1) held Cleveland to one run on four hits over seven innings, while striking out eight and walking one. He got the win, and Justin Masterson (14-10) took the loss.
"We understand where we are," Norris said. "We're right in the thick of things. We're going to do it one day at a time because you can't get too far ahead of yourself."
"It usually starts and ends with your starting pitching," Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. "Bud was the difference maker today. He attacked the zone."
It may have been a costly loss for the Indians, who lost ace Masterson in the second inning. Masterson pitched a scoreless and hitless first inning, but he gave up a single to Wieters leading off the second. Masterson's first pitch to the next hitter, Nick Markakis, was a ball, and it was then that manager Terry Francona and the trainer visited the mound for the second time in the inning to check on Masterson's condition.
This time Masterson left the game with what was later announced as soreness in his left rib cage. It was a rare early exit for the durable Masterson, who came into the game fourth in the American League in innings pitched and fifth in games started.
"He wasn't letting it go. We didn't like what we were seeing. You could tell he was protecting himself. It seems like it's a musculature thing. He'll get scanned tomorrow and then we'll know more," said Francona.
"I think they got me out of there early enough so that there is nothing pulled that I'm aware of," said Masterson. "I might need a couple of extra days rest, get some tests done and see how I feel."
Right-hander Preston Guilmet relieved Masterson, and the Orioles erupted for three runs in the inning, two of them coming on a two-out double by Brian Roberts, giving Baltimore a 3-0 lead.
Norris, in his first career start against Cleveland, breezed through the first five innings, holding the Indians scoreless on one hit while retiring 15 of the first 17 batters he faced.
"He threw strikes with two pitches, his fastball and slider. He threw strikes and consistently worked ahead," said Francona.
"Obviously, to put up one run in seven (innings) is a big one for us. They gave me a great cushion to go out there and keep throwing up zeroes," Norris said.
Masterson's injury turned it into a bullpen game for the Indians, and the Orioles scored two more runs in the fourth inning against that bullpen to take a 5-0 lead. With one out J.J. Hardy singled and scored on McLouth's home run into the seats in right field off lefty Nick Hagadone, the second of seven relievers used by the Indians.
Wieters' homer came off Marc Rzepczynski in the ninth inning.
Cleveland's only runs came on solo home runs by Jason Kipnis in the seventh inning and by Lonnie Chisenhall in the eighth.
Notes: Prior to the game the Orioles recalled LHP Zach Britton from Class AAA Norfolk. . . Chris Davis leads the majors with 85 extra base hits. Only two Orioles have led the majors in extra base hits for a full season, Cal Ripken Jr. in 1991 and Frank Robinson in 1966. . . Prior to the game the Indians purchased the contract of LHP Clay Rapada from Class AAA Columbus. . . Francona said RHP Corey Kluber will be activated off the disabled list and will pitch in Friday's game vs. the Mets. Kluber will relieve starter LHP Scott Kazmir after four or five innings, according to Francona. Kluber has been on the DL since Aug. 6 with a sprained right middle finger.