Tillman, Orioles end Astros' six-game winning streak

MoiseKapenda Bower, The Sports Xchange
The SportsXchange

HOUSTON -- While Baltimore manager Buck Showalter considers right-hander Chris Tillman in the "infant stage" of his career as a starting pitcher, the Orioles welcomed Tillman's mature performance Tuesday night.
The Orioles turned two Houston errors and a strong outing from Tillman into a 4-1 victory at Minute Maid Park that snapped the Houston Astros' six-game winning streak.
Tillman (5-2) produced his fourth start this season with fewer than two earned runs allowed, surrendering one run on four hits and two walks with a career-high-tying eight strikeouts over seven innings. Making his 63rd career start, Tillman allowed consecutive batters to reach base only once, producing an outing bested only by the eight shutout innings he threw in a 5-1 victory over the Los Angeles Angels on May 2.
"He had some late life (on his fastball) in the zone," Showalter said. "Sometimes you have the same velocity but you don't have the finish, that last little come-again action so to speak. (Orioles catcher) Matt (Wieters) really did pretty good there. And (Tillman) got his off-speed over enough to where they couldn't just sit there and try to speed the bat up."
The Orioles (33-25) recorded just two run-scoring hits: Danny Valencia's third-inning solo homer and Ryan Flaherty's ninth-inning RBI single. Manny Machado scored on a Chris Carter fielding error in the third inning. In the eighth, Nate McLouth hit a leadoff single to center field, stole two bases, then strolled home on an errant throw from catcher Jason Castro.
Jim Johnson recorded his fourth consecutive save, and 19th this season, with a scoreless ninth inning. Baltimore improved to 18-12 on the road.
The Astros (21-38) returned to Houston around 6 a.m. Tuesday following their first undefeated road trip of at least six games since a 7-0 tear through Montreal and Philadelphia from Sept. 3-9, 1999.
Astros right-hander Lucas Harrell (4-7) entered the game ranked last in the American League in walks with 37. He had allowed one earned run in six different starts this season, and in only one of those outings -- May 9 against the Los Angeles Angels -- did he issue three-plus walks.
From the onset, Harrell exhibited supreme control, with his lone blemish coming in the third. Orioles designated hitter Valencia smacked an opposite-field, leadoff home run to right, his third homer in just 25 at-bats this season, before Machado doubled to left field and later scored when Carter was handcuffed by Adam Jones' ground ball.
"He's a pretty good first baseman in his own right," Astros manager Bo Porter said of Carter. "It's unfortunate that he made the error tonight, but it's not something that will be a concern moving forward of not wanting him to play first base. He's a guy that can move to the outfield if we have the need."
Harrell completed seven stellar innings allowing just two runs (one earned) on five hits and, of greater significance, zero walks with six strikeouts.
"I felt like I was locating on both sides of the plate tonight with my fastball," Harrell said. "Castro called a great game, we stuck with his game plan, and we were good with it.
"It was just one of those nights where Castro and I were clicking really well. We worked on throwing a lot of strikes. If you can throw it down the middle, you can hit the edges, too."
Houston center fielder Brandon Barnes recorded the first two hits off Tillman, following his leadoff single in the first inning with a one-out home run in the sixth. Tillman surrendered just three baserunners in the interim, with Barnes' blast the lone extra-base hit Tillman allowed.
"I think we try to go out and get deep in the game and do our best every game," Tillman said. "I think it's coming along. I think we're getting there. Wieters did a good job of getting me back on track early in the game when I was a little off. He saw some things and addressed them."
NOTES: Orioles DH Wilson Betemit (right knee sprain) and 2B Brian Roberts (right hamstring strain) hit in the cage and participated in light agility drills. Betemit has been out all season; Roberts has been sidelined since April 5. ... Baltimore LHP Wei-Yin Chen started his throwing program, making 25 throws at 65 to 75 feet pain-free. Chen has been sidelined since mid-May due to a right oblique strain. ... Astros CF Justin Maxwell began his rehab assignment with Double-A Corpus Christi. Maxwell was placed on the 15-day disabled list with a fractured left hand on April 24.

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