Right-hander Chris Tillman took the loss Monday night in his third attempt to win his 15th game of the season as the Tampa Bay Rays defeated the Orioles, 4-3, at Camden Yards.

He pitched six innings, allowing four runs on five hits while striking out five. Tillman allowed two home runs to the Rays, and his 26 allowed rank fifth in the majors.

In the early going, it didn’t look like Tillman would get to that point. In allowing two runs on four hits in the first two innings, Tillman threw 51 pitches, and it seemed like an early exit was in the works for the 25-year-old.

“It’s tough,” Tillman said. “They battled some at-bats, and they took some pitches, some pitcher’s pitches. I think they battled all game against me. Then they were able to put a pretty good swing on a pitch and get their hits. You’ve got to give credit.”

“Bent but didn’t break,” manager Buck Showalter said. “In the past, Tilly might let that get away from him. But I think that’s the difference in him as a pitcher this year. He gave us six innings and a chance to win the game.”

Tillman is 0-1 in his past three starts, and the loss to Rays snapped another streak for him. He had won his past six starts at Camden Yards, and he hadn’t lost in Baltimore in exactly three months. The other team in that game? Tampa Bay. The Rays got three runs on five hits and a walk against him in that game.

For the year, Tillman is 7-3 with a 4.48 ERA in 14 home starts. He’s allowed 20 of his home runs in the confines of Camden Yards.

“He was fine,” catcher Matt Wieters said. “Early, he was struggling a little bit, but that’s the thing with Tillman. This year, he’s been able to turn it up and get through those six innings and give us a chance to win. [He allowed] a couple of home run pitches. Other than that, he was outstanding,”

The Orioles offense has picked up Tillman often this year. Tillman’s season-high in runs allowed this year is six, and the Orioles won both of those games — an 11-8 slugfest against Seattle on Aug. 2 and a 9-6 comeback against Washington on May 29 — thanks to the longball.

But a leaky bullpen against San Francisco and Arizona, plus Monday night’s ugly offensive output doomed Tillman to stay at 14 wins.

“It was OK,” Tillman said. “They got to me early. They saw a lot of pitches early on. I think I struggled with my offspeed stuff early. Was able to find it later, but they jumped on the board early and they kind of never looked back.”

dgallen@baltsun.com

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