Orioles 4, Mariners 2
It's just coincidence the finest performance of Chris Tillman's young career with Baltimore came against his former organization.
Whether it came against Seattle or anyone else, Tillman's effort Wednesday was satisfying and impressive.
Tillman gave up just two hits in 8 1-3 innings in first start of the year, Adam Jones hit his 20th home run into the upper deck in left field, and the Orioles beat the Mariners 4-2.
''Now I can sit back, it still hasn't come to me yet, but I'm happy. It was good,'' Tillman said. ''The way I felt, my command was OK and I definitely think we can move forward from here.''
Jones' homer leading off the second inning came on a 2-0 pitch from Seattle starter Hector Noesi (2-11) and landed well back in the upper level seats. That was essentially all Tillman needed, as the one-time Seattle prospect shut down his former organization after getting called up from the minors.
Tillman (1-0) took a one-hit shutout into the ninth only to see the Orioles' sloppy defense likely cost him a complete game. Michael Saunders reached on an Robert Andino's careless error and John Jaso's one-out double on Tillman's 125th pitch ended his day.
Jim Johnson entered and gave up an RBI groundout to Kyle Seager and RBI single to Justin Smoak, but still finished off his major league-leading 25th save.
Before Jaso's double the only hit Tillman allowed came in the fourth when Saunders singled up the middle just out of J.J. Hardy's reach. Tillman struck out seven and walked two and his velocity hovered in the mid-90s even into the ninth inning. He had never gone more than 7 1-3 innings in a major league start, but after retiring the first 10 batters Tillman set down 15 of the final 20 he faced. Both of the runs Seattle scored in the ninth were unearned.
After the game, the Orioles optioned Tillman to Double-A Bowie, with the intent of starting him early next week during the All-Star break then bringing him back to Baltimore after the break.
''What he did today is not new ... this is not uncharted territory for him. It's just it would be if he can consistently do it,'' Orioles manager Buck Showalter said.
Tillman was once a top prospect in the Mariners' farm system before being shipped along with Jones and three others to Baltimore in 2008 in exchange for Erik Bedard, a trade that backfired on the Mariners. Jones has developed into an All-Star, while Bedard spent four injury-plagued seasons in Seattle's organization.
Tillman was a bit of a wild card in the deal. He was highly regarded by the Mariners, but his career with the Orioles hasn't met projections. Tillman was just 3-5 with a 5.52 ERA in 13 starts with Baltimore in 2011 and 8-8 with a 3.63 ERA at Triple-A Norfolk this season.
He looked like he belonged in the Orioles' rotation against the Mariners meager offense. Tillman was perfect until Saunders' one-out single in the fourth inning. He was helped by Chris Davis' diving catch on Munenori Kawasaki's blooper in the third and kept his infield busy with 11 outs recorded by the infield.
Tillman allowed just six baserunners total and two of those reached on errors in the eighth and ninth innings.
''It's frustrating he couldn't finish it off because he had the stuff to pitch a complete game today,'' Showalter said.
Davis and Andino added RBI singles for the Orioles, who won two straight for the first time since June 16-17. Since taking two of three from Atlanta in mid-June, the Orioles are just 5-10.
Noesi barely lasted five innings and became the first 11-game loser in baseball and his time in the rotation may be running out. It was the fourth straight start with Noesi giving up at least seven hits and he has not left a game with the lead since May 17 against Cleveland. He has not won since May 6.
Jones' homer came on a 2-0 count in the second. According to STATS LLC, it was the first time this season Noesi has given up a hit on a 2-0 pitch. It was Noesi's 20th home run allowed.
''He has to be more aggressive,'' Seattle manager Eric Wedge said of Noesi. ''We need him to take that next step to where we know what we're getting from him.''
NOTES: Seattle C Jesus Montero left in the fifth inning after taking a foul ball from Andino off the facemask. Montero was down on a knee for several minutes and was wobbly when he first stood up. Wedge said Montero had a mild concussion. ... Baltimore 2B Brian Roberts was sent back to Baltimore for more examination of his groin injury that landed him on the 15-day DL on Tuesday. ... The Orioles improved to 16-3 in games where Jones homered.