ANAHEIM, Calif. — In this Southern California landscape full of highways, Orioles right-hander Chris Tillman grew up just a 30-minute drive away from Angel Stadium. And despite having 56 major league starts under his belt, Thursday night’s against the Angels was his first one in a long drive back home.
It was worth the wait.
Tillman’s homecoming was a memorable one as he turned in one of his most dominating starts of his big league career, allowing just three hits in eight scoreless innings to lead the Orioles to a 5-1 victory over the Los Angeles Angels in the opener of this four-game series.
The Orioles (17-12) scored just three runs in eight innings against Angels starter Joe Blanton, but it was enough to earn their fifth win in eight games on this three-city, 11-game West Coast road trip. One more win in the remaining three games will ensure a winning record on their only road trip entirely through the AL West this season.
The win was the Orioles’ third in their last 11 games at Angel Stadium and their sixth in the last 19 games against the Angels overall.
Tillman — who was born in Anaheim, went to high school in Fountain Valley and still lives in nearby Irvine – enjoyed his best performance of the season after overcoming some early obstacles.
Tillman overcame a 24-pitch first inning in which he allowed two singles and a walk and needed a pinpoint throw to the plate from right fielder Nick Markakis to prevent a run.
The 25-year-old Tillman cruised through a treacherous Angels lineup, at one point retiring 11 straight and ultimately 20 of the final 21 batters he faced.
After Hank Conger’s single with one out in the second, Tillman didn’t allow another baserunner until Erick Aybar’s single led off the sixth and nothing after that before giving way to closer Jim Johnson in the ninth. Seventy-three of Tillman’s 114 pitches were strikes.
Johnson yielded a solo homer to Angels slugger Albert Pujols in the ninth, but it wasn’t enough for an free-falling Angels team that set a club record with 17 losses in the month of April and opened the night already seven games back of first-place Texas in the AL West.
In two career starts against the Angels (10-18), Tillman has a 1.84 ERA. He is also 9-1 with a 2.11 ERA in 11 career starts against teams from the AL West.
Third baseman Manny Machado extended his hitting streak to 11 games, getting two hits, including an RBI single in the third that plated the Orioles’ first run of the game. The 20-year-old Machado has seven multi-hit games in that span, and he already owns the franchise record for the longest hitting streak for a player younger than 21.
Nate McLouth also had two hits, including a two-run homer in the top of the ninth to center field off reliever Ryan Brasier, which gave the Orioles a 5-0 lead. McLouth has reached safely in 18 of his 21 starts this season.
First baseman Chris Davis, who earlier in the day was named the AL Player of the Month for April, drove in his 29th run of the season with a double in the sixth, scoring Adam Jones from first to give the Orioles a 2-0 lead.
Nick Markakis gave the Orioles added insurance in the seventh with a two-out double down the right-field line. That hit plated Nolan Reimold, who reached on a two-out throwing error by Brendan Harris.
Markakis also made an impact with his arm. With runners on first and second and two outs in the first inning, Josh Hamilton singled to right, but Markakis rifled a perfect throw home on one hop to get Mike Trout at the plate.
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