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Orioles right-hander Chris Tillman reaches 200-inning milestone in bittersweet effort

Chris Tillman's groundbreaking moment came and went without much fanfare Tuesday.

The Orioles right-hander pitched seven innings in a 3-2 loss to the Blue Jays and, in doing so, surpassed 200 innings pitched for the season — a milestone only four other Orioles have reached in the past 12 years.

But because the loss ended the Orioles' playoff hopes, Tillman said it was difficult to celebrate his benchmark year.

"It's tough," Tillman said. "[Two hundred innings] is more of a personal thing, and this is a big team thing," he said. "Tonight was a disappointment."

Tillman has pitched 201 1/3 innings this year. He might not make his final scheduled start Sunday.

The other 200-inning pitchers since 2001 are Sidney Ponson (2004), Rodrigo Lopez (2005), Daniel Cabrera (2007) and Jeremy Guthrie (2009-11).

Despite the disappointing loss, Orioles manager Buck Showalter was able to appreciate Tillman's consistency this season.

"That doesn't go unnoticed. That's quite a feat in today's game," Showalter said. "We've depended so much on him over the year and he very seldom disappoints."

Tillman (16-7) struck out nine and walked one batter while allowing five hits and an earned run. The Orioles were leading 2-1 when he was pulled, but the bullpen wasn't able to protect the lead, with reliever Kevin Gausman allowing a run in the eighth inning.

A line-drive single by Mark DeRosa drove in the Blue Jays' winning run in the 10th.

"These games are tough," Tillman said. "It's a grind later in the game, and we battled all year."

The quality of Tillman's innings set the 25-year-old apart. He is only the fourth Oriole in the past 35 years to win at least 16 games and throw 200 innings or more at 25 years or younger, according to baseball-reference.com.

It all started with his banner year in 2012, when Tillman posted a career-best 2.93 ERA and finished with a 9-3 record. The slinger took that momentum and set a new career high for starts in 2013, with 32, while recording a 3.70 ERA.

"I think confidence is a big part of pitching," Tillman said. "The more you have of it, the better off you'll be," Tillman said. "There were lessons learned last year."

Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun
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