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TOR@BAL: O's walk off in 12th on Lough's single

BALTIMORE -- David Lough's first season with the Orioles has been a dizzying experience.

Back in the lineup Saturday night after being sidelined for the second time in the last five weeks with concussion-like symptoms, Lough delivered the game-winning single in the bottom of the 12th inning, scoring Steve Lombardozzi from third base in Baltimore's 2-1 victory over the Toronto Blue Jays.

Mobbed by his teammates after the first walk-off hit he could remember, Lough laughed at the suggestion that he might be worried about the celebration getting too rough.

"I was kind of expecting that. I was like, 'here we go.' Trying to get prepared for it," Lough said. "But my helmet was on and I was safe."

Saturday marked Lough's first start since Monday. He was sidelined for a week in Spring Training after he experienced dizziness and saw floaters in his eyes. When the symptoms returned early this week, the Orioles expected 28-year-old to go on the disabled list. But doctors cleared him to play after determining he did not have a concussion.

Lough made his first impact on Saturday night in the seventh inning of a scoreless game. With two down, he singled and scored on a slicing double to the gap in right-center field by rookie infielder Jonathan Schoop. The single run stood until Toronto was down to its final strike in the ninth inning.

Then on a 1-2 pitch from Tommy Hunter, Colby Rasmus blasted a solo home run into the bleachers in right-center field to tie the game. Hunter, often susceptible to the home run, was beaten on a 98 mph fastball after throwing three breaking pitches to the Blue Jays' center fielder.

It was a bitter pill for Baltimore to swallow, especially considering the way starting pitcher Bud Norris had shut down Toronto, allowing just five hits and no runs in seven innings. The previous night, the Orioles lost 2-0 despite brilliant work by ace Chris Tillman.

According to Lough, however, he was glad to see the Orioles unaffected by Rasmus delivering Toronto from the brink of defeat.

"It was one of those games where we kept our heads up," Lough said. "I looked in the dugout and we still had energy."

Lough has been something of an energy guy for the Orioles since he was acquired from the Royals in exchange for Danny Valencia in December. With no true leadoff hitter in the lineup, Baltimore hopes it's a slot he soon will fill. The left fielder has the speed, but now it's a question of whether he has the bat, and perhaps, the head.

"We took a different approach. Hopefully this time we figured it out." Lough said of the treatment he received this week. "If I'm in the lineup, [manager] Buck [Showalter] feels confident in me, I feel confident in myself, in my ability to compete at this level."

Showalter likes what Lough brings.

"David's a contributor. He's contributed in games he hasn't got a hit in," Showalter said. "Stole a couple bases, plays really good defense. He'll play left field as well as anybody in our league. He's an option in center field when [Adam Jones] needs a day. David's been grinding."

Another offseason acquisition, Lombardozzi, helped make Lough a hero on Saturday. There were indications that Baltimore was ready to break through against reliever Todd Redmond (0-1) after the right-hander had thrown three shutout innings.

Catcher Steve Clevenger closed the 11th inning with a deep drive that sent Toronto left fielder Melky Cabrera to the warning track. Then, leading off the 12th inning, J.J. Hardy -- back in the lineup after he had been sidelined for a week with back spasms -- slammed a towering shot to right that Jose Bautista grabbed with his back to the infield before sprawling on the track.

Lombardozzi was next up and his liner to straight-away center flew over the head of Rasmus. With a head-first slide, the Orioles second baseman landed safe at third base, setting the scene for Lough, who lined Redmond's outside corner pitch down the left-field line.

Schoop's seventh-inning double was the first extra-base hit in a game unexpectedly dominated by pitchers Norris and Drew Hutchison.

Norris threw 105 pitches, walking three and striking out four. Hutchison was just as effective, holding the Orioles to four hits over six innings with two walks and five strikeouts. But neither figured in the decision as they turned the game over to their respective bullpens.

Norris' performance was a major positive for the Orioles starting staff, which has struggled with the exception of Tillman.

"We're gonna get it going. Tilly is obviously the lead dog. We're all trying to catch up to him," Norris said. "With Ubaldo [Jimenez], [Wei-Yin] Chen, [Miguel Gonzalez] and myself, we know we can go out there and do the job. These guys have pitched in the big leagues for a while now."

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