In his first career postseason start, Orioles right-hander Bud Norris was sensational. He matched 2012 Cy Young Award winner David Price pitch for pitch and his offense finally got him the lead. Norris pitched 6 1/3 scoreless innings and Nelson Cruz hit a two-run homer as the Orioles beat Detroit 2-1 to complete a three-game sweep of their American League Division Series. The win sends the Orioles to the AL Championship Series for the first time since 1997. They await the winner of the Royals-Angels series for Game 1 of the ALCS on Friday. Down 2-0, the Tigers rallied in the ninth against closer Zach Britton. J.D. Martinez came up with an RBI double to make it a 2-1 game. With one out, the O's chose to intentionally walk Nick Castellanos to put runners on first and second with one down. But Britton got pinch-hitter Hernan Perez to bounce into a 5-4-3 double play to end the game and the O's on-field celebration was on. During the regular season, the Tigers led the AL with a .277 batting average and ranked second in runs scored, but they went 2-for-23 (.087) today against Norris. Norris allowed a few runners early on, but the Tigers went 0-for-4 with runners in scoring position against him over the first three innings. Norris did not allow a hit after the third. He held the Tigers' 3-4-5 hitters - Miguel Cabrera, Victor Martinez and J.D. Martinez - without a hit as they went 0-for-9 against him. In the first two games of this series, that trio went 9-for-23 (.391) with four homers and eight RBIs. Norris entered this outing having allowed 16 runs over 17 2/3 innings in his previous three starts against Detroit. But today, the Tigers had no answer for Norris, who walked two and fanned six, throwing 100 pitches. Norris' outing followed his strong finish to the regular season. He pitched to an ERA of 1.47 over his last three starts and in five September starts, he went 4-0 with a 2.08 ERA The Orioles finally got on the board and broke the scoreless tie in the top of the sixth. Adam Jones came to bat, and at that point, was 3-for-36 in his career in the postseason, but he reached on a ground single to center. Then Cruz did it again. He took a 1-1 changeup from Price - that may have been off the plate outside, but was up - and hit it out down the right field line. The ball was just fair and just over the fence for a two-run homer and 2-0 lead. It was Cruz's second homer of this series and the 16th in 37 career postseason games, moving him past Babe Ruth and into a tie for ninth all-time with Carlos Beltran. In nine career playoff games against Detroit, Cruz has eight homers and 18 RBIs. In this series, Cruz went 6-for-12 with two homers and five RBIs. Andrew Miller followed Norris and pitched 1 2/3 scoreless innings, retiring all five batters he faced. This was the Orioles' first postseason series sweep since they went 3-0 against the Oakland A's in the 1971 ALCS. The Orioles improved to 3-1 in ALDS play, winning 11 of 16 games. They are now 52-35 (.598) all-time in the postseason. Even without three key players in Matt Wieters, Manny Machado and Chris Davis, the Orioles won three straight games against the AL's last three Cy Young winners. Now the Orioles will head home to their energized fan base, heading to the next round as they become the first team to advance by sweeping the four-time defending AL Central champion Tigers.
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