The Orioles have been searching the past few weeks for the Chris Tillman who showed up Tuesday night at Camden Yards -- the guy who can survive a rough situation, pitch through it and keep his team in the game.
The problem, though, is that the Orioles' offense went missing in a 1-0 loss to the Boston Red Sox -- turning in the club's weakest performance of the season.
“The Red Sox didn't just come in and say, 'Here's all fastballs, just beat us to death,' no,” Orioles designated hitter Adam Jones said. “They came here to compete. They are after what we are after.”
The Orioles managed just two hits, their fewest for a game this season.
The loss dropped the Orioles to 32-31 on the season and evened the three-game series against the Red Sox (29-35) at 1-1. Boston had been 0-18 in games in which they scored three runs or fewer this season.
The Orioles' offense had seemingly turned the corner this month, averaging 5.38 runs per game in eight June contests before Tuesday.
But the group couldn't figure out Boston right-hander Brandon Workman, a 2010 second round pick out of the University of Texas who befuddled the Orioles by spotting his low 90s fastball, cutter and an excellent curveball.
“He had the cutter and the fastball, showing it to you, but the curveball he had command of,” Orioles manager Buck Showalter said of Workman. “Coming in, it was what we knew we were going to see. Hope he didn't have command of both of them [cut-fastball and curve]. But he did.”
Before an announced 24,184, which suffered through two rain delays -- one lasted 15 minutes, the other, 1 hour and 18 minutes -- Workman took a no-hitter into the sixth before Ryan Flaherty hit a single to center.
It was the second time in a month that an opposing pitcher took a no-hitter through at least five innings against the Orioles. Kansas City left-hander Danny Duffy threw 6 2/3 innings before he allowed a hit at Kauffman Stadium on May 17 in the Royals' 1-0 victory in which the Orioles had just three hits.
The Orioles had a few chances Tuesday, including in the ninth, when pinch-hitter Steve Pearce singled to start the inning against former Orioles right-hander Koji Uehara. But a failed sacrifice bunt and two strikeouts gave Uehara his 13th save of the season.
It wasn't his prettiest, but Tillman (5-3) picked up his second quality start in five outings by allowing one run, seven hits and three walks in six innings. He threw just 61 of his 100 pitches for strikes, but continually minimized damage.
“A little better. I was able to kind of get in a rhythm there later,” Tillman said. “Early was a struggle. Still better, but later in the game got better as I went. So I was happy with that. Made some bad pitches early but we were able to work our way out of it.”
Tillman, who had allowed 14 first-inning runs in his 13 previous starts this season, faced the minimum three batters in Tuesday's first on a total of six pitches.
Things got a little rockier after that.
He escaped bases-loaded jams without allowing a run in the second and fourth innings. In the third, he gave up an RBI single to Mike Napoli, but stranded two runners when he struck out Daniel Nava.
Tillman settled down and retired the Red Sox in order in the fifth on nine pitches and worked around an error by Flaherty in the sixth.
That was Tillman's final inning -- he didn't go particularly deep into the game, but he lasted much longer than in his last outing in Texas, when he was pummeled for five runs in one full inning. He threw in the stadium's indoor mound twice Tuesday to keep loose during the rain delays -- and said that was a huge help – and so he considered this outing a step in the right direction.
“I was able to execute pitches when I needed to when I got into trouble. Later in the game I was executing most of my pitches,” he said. “So it was good to see it coming. Especially felt better as I went, so that's promising.
Meanwhile, Workman, a 25-year-old who was making his seventh major league start, was perfect through four innings Tuesday.
With one out in the fifth, Workman allowed his first base runner, permitting a one-out walk to Nelson Cruz, his 14th batter faced. Cruz was quickly doubled off when J.J. Hardy popped up to second baseman Dustin Pedroia and Cruz inexplicably dashed to second, forgetting the number of outs -- and was easily doubled off.
“I think so. That's the way it looked to me,” Showalter said. “There's a time and place [to address it].”
Cruz said: "I missed the outs. It's no excuse. I should know better. It shouldn't have happened."
The Orioles finally got a hit against Workman with two outs in the sixth when Flaherty singled to center. The Maine native made sure Red Sox Nation wouldn't have more no-hit history against the Orioles.
The Orioles have been no-hit only six times in modern franchise history; the past two were by the Red Sox: Clay Buchholz in 2007 at Fenway Park and Hideo Nomo in 2001 at Camden Yards -- the only no-hitter in the stadium's 23 seasons.
Workman (1-0) ended up throwing a career-high 6 2/3 innings, striking out four while walking one.
And that was too much for Tillman and company.
“He threw the ball well, and I think, as an opposing pitcher, you've got to do your job and make pitches because he is going to be tough,” Tillman said. “He's tough.”
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