J.J. Hardy, Andy Dirks

Orioles shortstop J.J. Hardy tags out Detroit's Andy Dirks as he tries to steal second base in the fifth inning Saturday. (Rick Osentoski, US PRESSWIRE / August 18, 2012)

DETROIT -- Orioles left-hander Zach Britton threw his best outing of the season Saturday night against a trecherous Tigers lineup, but after his seven shutout innings, he noted he was only as good as the defense behind him.

Britton’s sinker was working Saturday night, which allowed him to get three key double play balls, including two in his first five outs of the game. Another double play ball – Delmon Young’s grounder up the middle that hopped over Britton but was gloved by shortstopJ.J. Hardy for a 6-4-3 inning-ender – came after Britton put two on with no outs in the inning.

“For him to get ground balls, the infield was ready tonight for him to be getting those ground balls and make big plays,” catcher Matt Wieters said. “He had a good rythym going. When guys are throwing strikes and getting ground balls like he was tonight, the infield is going to be ready to play.”

Behind the plate, Wieters’ ability to corral balls in the dirt gave Britton confidence in throwing his slider. Wieters also erased a leadoff baserunner in the fourth when he threw out Andy Dirks trying to steal second, rifling a ball that shortstop J.J. Hardy expertly handled on the shorthop.

“The defense made great plays,” Britton said. “Matt blocked some crucial balls. Him and J.J. on that playing to [get] Dirks, I had my mouth wide open, I couldn’t believe what I just saw.”

Even after Britton left the game, the stellar defense continued. With one on in the eighth, rookie third baseman Manny Machado made a nice running snag of Omar Infante’s grounder down the line and threw across the infield to get Infante. That play was critical in preventing further damage in an inning in which the Tigers scored both of their runs against set-up man Pedro Strop.