The Baltimore Orioles completed an excellent homestand a few days ago. They have an opportunity to follow that with a road series win over the hottest team in the American League.
Seeking a fourth straight series victory away from home, the Orioles turn to their most consistent starting pitcher when Wei-Yin Chen faces the Detroit Tigers in Sunday's finale.
Although they closed their homestand Thursday with a loss to Boston, the Orioles still won seven of 10 before dropping the opener of this series 5-3 on Friday. Baltimore (65-55) bounced back with a 3-2 victory Saturday behind seven scoreless innings from Zach Britton and Chris Davis' three-run homer.
"I didn't think it was going to go out," Davis said. "I was just hoping it would get over Andy (Dirks') head."
A win Sunday would be the 11th in 15 road games for the Orioles, who have recent series wins at Cleveland, New York and Tampa Bay. Saturday's victory was the 33rd away from home for Baltimore after it won 30 road games all of last season.
Detroit, which entered Saturday an AL-best 28-16 since June 28, was denied a fourth straight win overall with only its fourth loss in 21 home games. The defeat prevented the Tigers (64-56) from moving within one-half game of Central-leading Chicago.
"Right off the bat, we had some opportunities and we didn't take advantage of it," manager Jim Leyland said, "and sometimes in games that comes back to haunt you."
The slugging tandem of Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder is a combined 6 for 10 with three homers, five RBIs and five walks in this series while the rest of the team is 7 for 50 (.140) with no homers, two RBIs and one walk.
Cabrera and Fielder accounted for the only hits off Chen the first time the rookie faced the Tigers - a game the Orioles won 8-6 in 13 innings July 14.
Chen (11-7, 3.70 ERA) has won three of his last four starts, limiting the Red Sox to one run over six-plus innings in a 7-1 victory Tuesday.
He has held opponents to three runs or fewer in six of his past seven outings, going 4-2 with a 3.14 ERA during that span. That stretch started against Detroit, which managed only one run and two hits in six innings off the left-hander.
With newcomer Anibal Sanchez struggling, the Tigers decided to push his next outing to Wednesday against Toronto and will start Doug Fister (7-7, 3.24) on Sunday.
Fister has recorded quality starts in seven consecutive appearances. He gave up four unearned runs and struck out seven over eight innings of an 8-4 win at Minnesota on Tuesday.
This is the second straight year the right-hander has thrived in the second half.
In seven starts since the All-Star break, Fister is 5-1 with a 1.52 ERA and 48 strikeouts over 53 1-3 innings. Last year, he was 8-1 with a 1.79 ERA down the stretch for the Tigers after being acquired at the trade deadline from Seattle.
"It's just been some fine-tuning," Fister said. "Being able to stay consistent is my biggest focus and the only way to do it is to get out there and do it, get the confidence, get the feel, the touch."
Fister pitched the Tigers to a 7-2 victory at Baltimore on July 13, allowing one run and three hits while striking out eight without a walk in seven innings. He's 3-1 with a 3.94 ERA in five career starts against the Orioles.
Right fielder Nick Markakis is 7 for 17 (.412) with a home run and a double off Fister.