Chris Tillman

Orioles starting pitcher Chris Tillman delivers a pitch against the Toronto Blue Jays. (Karl Merton Ferron, Baltimore Sun / April 11, 2014)

Chris Tillman said things weren’t working at all for him in the first part of Friday’s 2-0 loss to the Toronto Blue Jays.

Orioles manager Buck Showalter said it was clear Tillman didn’t have his best stuff, but battled through.

And that’s why Tillman’s presence on the Orioles is so important. His subpar performance resulted in a three-hit, eight-inning outing in which he fanned six batters and the only two runs he allowed were unearned.

“We've seen him pitch better than that. To tell you the truth, I didn't think Chris was carrying his normal stuff. A real testament to him and Matt (Wieters),” Showalter said. “When you can put three or four pitches in a hitter's head that you can throw for strikes, you can get by on some nights. That's a testament to a good pitcher. To give us a good chance to win without carrying what we've seen him carry.”

Tillman allowed one or zero base runners in seven of the eight innings he pitched. The only exception was in the fourth, when rookie Jonathan Schoop made two throwing errors.

Twice Tillman induced potential double play balls, but Schoop threw one away and Ryan Flaherty rushed the other. Flaherty wasn’t charged with an error – because the Orioles did pick up one out on a force – but a good throw would have gotten slow-footed Dioner Navarro to end the inning instead of allowing the second run to score.

“It’s baseball,” Tillman said about the rare defensive miscues. “It could have happened early on in the game when I was missing and we wouldn’t even be talking about it. I trust these guys day in and day out.”

Tillman has now not allowed more than an earned run in any of his three starts. He has a 0.84 ERA and has allowed just 15 hits and three walks in 21 1/3 innings. But afterward he talked like a pitcher lucky to escape without an ugly line.

“It was a struggle early. I just couldn’t get into a rhythm early on, was fighting myself to make the adjustments,” Tillman said. “Luckily, we were able to make them a little later in the game and hats off to Matty for hanging with me. He was sitting with me between innings, we were talking. We were able to figure it out, fortunately.”