Astros fate changes after Norris exit

Astros fate changes after Norris exit
May 22, 2013, 2:00 am
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Bud Norris discusses his injury

(Rick Osentoski - USA Today Sports Images)

The Astros’ fortunes turned on Tuesday when Bud Norris left after six shutout innings with tightness in his back.

Norris was cruising against the Royals lineup. He allowed only five hits. And he was staked to a 3-0 lead on Jimmy Paredes’ three-run home run off Wade Davis in the fourth inning. It was Paredes’ first home run of the season.

Then Norris’ back tightened and he was taken out before the start of the seventh inning. But the Astros bullpen couldn’t hold the lead and the Royals won 7-3 at Minute Maid Park, scoring all seven runs in the final three innings.

“It’s unfortunate,” said Norris, perhaps describing both his back and the disappointing loss. “These guys have picked me too. This bullpen doesn’t hang its head. I’m not worried about them.

“It’s a tough one for us as a team but we still have a chance to go out there and win the series tomorrow.”

The Astros won the series opener 6-5 on Monday. The three-game series concludes on Wednesday.

In his prior start at Detroit, Norris had lower back spasms and was taken out while warming up to start an inning. The same thing happened on Wednesday.

Norris may have hurt his back covering base first early in the game on Tuesdsay.

Before coming out to pitch the top of the seventh inning, Norris went down beneath the tunnel during the half inning and had a trainer stretch him.

Astros manager Bo Porter noticed something wasn’t right with Norris, who lowered his home ERA to 1.93.

“It looked like he wasn’t finishing the warm-up pitches,” said Porter. “When I saw him not finishing down the mound, he said it was tightening a bit and that’s all I needed to know to get him out of the game.”

Norris wanted to stay in but knew it was better to protect him from further injury.

“I’m a little frustrated with the back, but I’m going to keep dealing with it and hopefully it’ll get better,” said Norris, “It’s tight. It’s something that’s aching up on me.”

Kansas City scored two runs in the seventh, four in the eighth and once in the ninth to make a winner out of Bruce Chen (3-0). Paul Clemens (1-2) took the loss.

In three innings, four Astros relievers allowed eight hits.

“It’s one of those things you feel you have the right matchups,” said Porter. “Tonight we just didn’t get it done. Give Kansas City credit. They battled their at-bats and put ball in play and had some good at-bats late in the ballgame.”

Paredes had three hits and reached base four times. On Monday he had two hits.

Alex Gordon reached base four times and had three of the Royals’ 13 hits.

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