BALTIMORE - Chris Tillman has struggled early in games often this season, but then gotten into a rhythm while holding opposing teams to a minimal number of runs.
On Friday night, Tillman couldn't find that rhythm against his former team.
Luckily for the Baltimore Orioles' right-hander, the team's bats did find one, sending balls out of Camden Yards left and right.
Nate McLouth hit his first career grand slam and Chris Davis and Ryan Flaherty added solo homers, helping Tillman earn his 14th win as the Orioles downed the Seattle Mariners 11-8 before a joyous crowd of 25,947.
"Usually when Tilly's pitching, you're not going to need that many [runs]," Flaherty said. "We had a good night offensively and it all worked out."
Baltimore (61-49) had just a 7-6 lead entering the bottom of the sixth. But after three straight singles to lead off the inning, McLouth launched his first career grand slam to right-center to give the Orioles a much larger lead.
Baltimore improved to 17-2 when hitting three or more home runs.
"It is an important part of our offense," McLouth said. "But what's more important is getting guys on in front of the homers."
The Orioles' offense got to Seattle starter Aaron Harang (5-10) early, scoring four runs in the bottom of the first. Adam Jones hit a two-run double with the bases loaded, Nick Markakis scored on an error by Mariners left fielder Raul Ibanez, and Jones later scored on a Matt Wieters sacrifice fly.
In the third, Davis crushed his major league-leading 40th homer to Eutaw Street, the 72nd home run to land there. He became just the fifth Oriole to hit 40 homers in a season, joining Brady Anderson, Frank Robinson, Rafael Palmeiro, and Jim Gentile.
"Notice the first three you called by their first name and everybody knew who you were talking about. Maybe one day they'll say 'Chris' and we'll know who you're talking about," Baltimore manager Buck Showalter said. "It's one of those things you reflect back on when the season is over."
After initially struggling following the All-Star break, Davis has homered in three of the last four games. However, the Baltimore slugger said he's still just looking forward.
"I'm proud of the way things are going this year," Davis said. "Still got a lot more work to do, but it's nice to be a big part of a winning team."
Flaherty had a stellar night in the No. 9 hole against the Mariners (50-59), collecting a career-high three hits, including a solo homer in the fourth, while reaching base all four times. The Baltimore second baseman was in the lineup because starter Brian Roberts left on paternity leave, and his night ended with two pies in his face.
Showalter said the contributions of the Orioles' reserves are critical to the team's success, as shown by Flaherty.
"That's why they're still on our club," Showalter said, "because I know and we know and their teammates know that they're going to be ready when called on because they work to be ready."
Tillman (14-3) was solid over the first two innings but labored thereafter. He yielded homers to Michael Saunders and Humberto Quintero, while matching his season-high with six earned runs.
It was the first time Tillman gave up more than five runs since May 29 against the Nationals. Although Tillman improved to 5-0 in five starts against the Mariners, it was the first time he did not earn a quality start against them.
"Everyone knows what our offense is capable of and they put on a show tonight," Tillman said. "They really picked this team up. It goes out to them tonight."
Seattle's Kendrys Morales went 4 for 4 with a homer, which came off Baltimore reliever Francisco Rodriguez. Rodriguez also gave up a solo shot to Michael Morse, which cut the Orioles' lead to 11-8.
Jim Johnson worked the ninth for his majors-best 38th save.
With both Tampa Bay and Boston losing Friday, the Orioles gained a game in the AL East and now trail by 4.5 games.
McLouth said it was a big series-opening win as the offense broke out, and that's what the team has to continue to do.
"It was the kind of a game where you felt like you had to outscore them. The ball was flying," McLouth said. "No matter who we're playing, we've got to continue to play well and play better, really, than we did the past month and hope these teams in front of us start losing some games."
NOTES: The Orioles placed Roberts on the paternity list prior to Friday's game, as he left the team to join his wife for the upcoming birth of their first child. ... Baltimore activated right-handed reliever Steve Johnson from the 15-day disabled list. ... Jason Hammel underwent an MRI on his right elbow Friday, but Showalter said they did not have the results yet.
- Major League Baseball
- Baltimore Orioles
- Chris Tillman
- Nate McLouth
- Seattle Mariners
- Chris Davis
- Buck Showalter
- Ray Flaherty
- Adam Jones
- Jim Johnson
- Brian Roberts
- Washington Nationals
- American League East
- Jason Hammel
- Aaron Harang
- Kendrys Morales
- Michael Morse
- Humberto Quintero
- Francisco Rodriguez (baseball, born 1982)