Orioles waste Tillman gem in 2-1 loss to Athletics

Chris Tillman picked an awful time to come up with one of his

best pitching performances of the season.

Tillman allowed Oakland only one run and three hits in eight

innings, yet the Orioles right-hander walked off the mound for the

final time with the score tied.

In the ninth, Coco Crisp hit a leadoff homer off reliever Darren

O’Day to give the Athletics a 2-1 victory.

For eight innings, Tilliman and Oakland right-hander Jarrod

Parker staged a magnificent pitching duel. Like Tillman, Parker

left the game with the score tied. But Crisp’s homer provided him

with his eighth straight win.

And although Tillman didn’t get the loss, he’s winless in four

starts since Aug. 9.

”Not worried about that,” he said. ”I’m more frustrated that

today’s a loss. It’s a frustrated clubhouse.”

Tillman walked two and tied a career high with nine strikeouts.

Parker (10-6) gave up one runs, five hits and three walks.

”It’s frustrating,” Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. ”We

end up on the losing side but watching two guys at the top of their

craft matching each other, you knew there was going to be a fine

margin of error.”

The miscue came after both starters left. O’Day (5-3) fell

behind 3-1 to Crisp before coming in with a breaking ball that

Oakland’s leadoff hitter smacked over the right-field wall.

Crisp thought he’d received ball four earlier in the at-bat. He

ended up trotting around the bases rather than jogging to first

base.

”Tried to bunt, tried to walk, and I was still in the at-bat

and I was able to get a pitch,” said Crisp, who has homered in

each of his last three games.

Asked if he’d like to have that pitch back, O’Day said, ”I’d

like to have all of them back to him. I got behind in the count and

he was looking for his pitch. I’ve got to be ahead in the count, so

yeah, he got what he wanted and he did what he wanted with

it.”

Oakland manager Bob Melvin had no intention of sending Parker

back out in the ninth. So he called upon closer Grant Balfour, who

got three straight outs for his 32nd save.

”There’s no doubt he’s done,” Melvin said of Parker. ”Good

thing there are pitch counts. Both of those guys, that game might

have gone on for a while. Both those guys were dominant today. It

usually takes one swing of the bat, defensive play, whatever, and

it was Coco’s late. It was good to reward Jarrod because, boy, he

pitched about as good as you can pitch.”

So did Tillman.

”Tillman was just what he’s been for us for most of the year,”

Orioles center fielder Adam Jones said. ”We count on him every

fifth day to go out there and give us the performances that he’s

been. Nothing but praises for him right now; he’s been throwing the

ball lights out. I told him after the game, I said, `It (stinks) we

couldn’t get you two runs.’ But that’s how good Parker was

throwing.”

Kurt Suzuki doubled and scored a run in his first game back with

Oakland after being traded from Washington on Friday. The victory

broke a three-game skid for the A’s, who improved to 16-17 since

the All-Star break and solidified their hold on the second and

final AL wild-card slot.

Ryan Flaherty homered for the Orioles, who have lost seven of

11.

”In the playoff race, it’s important. Every game is

important,” Tillman said. ”A loss always stinks. They’re never

fun.”

Parker retired the first seven batters he faced before Flaherty

hit his first home run since Aug. 2. Six of his eight homers have

been solo shots.

Oakland didn’t get its first hit until Jed Lowrie singled with

one out in the fourth.

Tillman didn’t allow another baserunner until Suzuki doubled to

left with one out in the sixth. He advanced on a groundout and

scored on double by Lowrie.

Manny Machado began the Baltimore sixth with his major

league-leading 44th double. With two outs and runners at the

corners, Nick Markakis hit an opposite-field fly to left that was

caught on the warning track.

The Orioles got runners at first and third with two outs in the

eighth before Matt Wieters grounded out to shortstop.

NOTES: Twelve of Crisp’s 13 home runs have been solo shots, and

nine have put the A’s ahead. … Athletics RHP Bartolo Colon

(strained left groin) will throw a bullpen session Monday when the

team goes to Detroit. Colon was placed on the 15-day disabled list

Aug. 17 when he hurt himself throwing on flat ground. … Scott

Feldman (3-3) makes his ninth start for Baltimore in the series

finale Sunday. Sonny Gray will pitch for the A’s. He has allowed

four hits or fewer in each of his first three career starts.