BOSTON - For the first time in seven years, the Baltimore Orioles have a 15-game winner, and it's Chris Tillman.
On his fourth attempt, Tillman won his 15th game, working a strong seven innings as the Orioles beat the Boston Red Sox 3-2 before 33,300 at Fenway Park on Thursday night.
Baltimore (71-61) salvaged the final game of a three-game series with the Red Sox (79-56).
Tillman has become the Orioles' ace, the pitcher they can depend on.
"That's the starting pitcher's goal, for these guys to trust you every time you go out there," Tillman said.
Boston took a 1-0 lead in the second when Daniel Nava doubled off Tillman and scored on Stephen Drew's single.
In the second, Danny Valencia led off with a double off Jon Lester. After he was tagged out at third on Brian Roberts' fielder's choice, Nate McLouth walked. Manny Machado's 45th double score Roberts and and McLouth, and Baltimore led 2-1.
The Orioles took a 3-1 lead in the fifth when Adam Jones walked and Chris Davis doubled. It was Davis' 121st RBI of the season.
Shane Victorino's 12th home run of the year cut the lead to 3-2 in the sixth.
Tillman pitched seven innings, allowing two runs on six hits. He struck out eight and didn't walk a hitter.
Tommy Hunter allowed a leadoff single to Jacoby Ellsbury in the eighth, and Brian Matusz continued his mastery over David Ortiz by striking him out to end the eighth.
Ortiz is 1-for-19 against Matusz with 11 strikeouts, and is stuck in an 0-for-22 slump.
After Davis didn't cover first base on a ball that Nava hit and Jim Johnson fielded, Jonny Gomes hit into a double play and Jarrod Saltalamacchia struck out. Tillman had his 15th win and Johnson his 41st save.
Matt Wieters has been working with Tillman for five years in the majors and minors.
"I enjoy working with Tillman, first off, and to see him improve - to see him get to where I always knew he could get - he has that kind of stuff. On top of that, he's one of the best teammates in the clubhouse, so it's good to see him succeed," Wieters said.
The Orioles trail Oakland by 3.5 games for the second Wild Card spot.
"We've got 30 games left, and September is an eternity. A lot of people have been in the war. It's a long season that starts here shortly. It will edge by, and that will be good for us if we're trying to catch up," manager Buck Showalter said. "Don't sell us short."
Lester, who won his first 14 decisions against Baltimore, is now 15-3 when facing the Orioles.
NOTES: Jason Hammel worked 2 2/3 scoreless innings in his rehab assignment at Bowie. He allowed three hits to Binghamton, struck out three and didn't walk a batter. He hit two batters. Hammel threw 46 pitches, 31 for strikes.
Showalter said that Hammel could work again on Sunday. He could rejoin the Orioles if he's needed in the bullpen. Hammel has been on the disabled list since July 29 with an injury to his right forearm.
"I'm hoping he gets a good solid two, three innings in. I'm hoping he has to throw in the bullpen after he gets through. I'm going to be surprised if he doesn't do real well physically. We took some extra time with him," Showalter said before the game.
Showalter said that the Orioles haven't decided whether Tsuyoshi Wada will join the club after the rosters expand on Sunday. He could go to Sarasota, Fla. to be ready in case he's needed.
The Orioles begin a three-game series in New York on Friday night. Miguel Gonzalez (8-6, 3.77) faces CC Sabathia (11-11, 4.81). On Saturday, Scott Feldman (4-3, 4.56) is scheduled to pitch against Ivan Nova (7-4, 3.14). Wei-Yin Chen (7-7, 3.76) will return Sunday to face Phil Hughes (4-13, 4.91).