BALTIMORE - Back and forth, both Chris Tillman and Jarrod Parker put zero after zero up on the scoreboard for their respective teams Saturday afternoon.
The Baltimore Orioles and Oakland Athletics were locked in a pitchers' duel. And it became apparent early that the game might not be decided until the two were no longer in the game.
Unfortunately for the Orioles, the game shifted in the Athletics' favor as soon as Tillman exited.
Baltimore reliever Darren O'Day served up a leadoff home run to Oakland's Coco Crisp in the top of the ninth inning, wasting a stellar outing from Tillman, as the Orioles fell 2-1 before 33,834 at Camden Yards.
But before that both Parker and Tillman dominated for eight innings.
"Got to see two guys at the top of their game," Baltimore manager Buck Showalter said. "That was pretty impressive by both of them. You could tell early on that Parker was carrying really good stuff and that runs were going to be at a premium."
And they were. The Orioles' (69-59) lone run came in the bottom of the third when Ryan Flaherty lifted a solo homer, his eighth, to right and put Baltimore up 1-0.
Parker (10-6) limited the Orioles to one run on five hits over eight innings but had exited when the game was still 1-1. The Oakland right-hander won his eighth-straight decision.
"Just kept us off balance," Baltimore center fielder Adam Jones said. "Nothing was really hit hard today, on both sides. You got to tip your cap to both pitchers."
Tillman was sharp, as he has been most of the season. The Orioles right-hander held Oakland (72-56) to one run on three hits over eight innings and matched his career-high with nine strikeouts.
He struck out four in a row at one point but did surrender an RBI double to Jed Lowrie in the sixth.
"I feel like once I'm able to get in a groove, I feel better toward the end of the game," Tillman said. "The deeper I get, the better I feel."
Tillman threw 117 pitches, so Showalter said it was an easy decision to not send him back out for the ninth.
"He emptied the tank there in the eighth inning," Showalter said.
But as soon as Tillman left, the game quickly turned. After O'Day (5-3) worked Crisp to a 3-1 count, Crisp jolted a solo shot to deep right to give the Athletics the win.
It is the second game-winning home run O'Day has surrendered this month.
"I got behind in the count, and he was looking for his pitch," O'Day said. "I've got to be ahead in the count, so yeah, he got what he wanted, and he did what he wanted with it."
Baltimore had several chances to break the tie against Parker earlier.
Manny Machado led off the sixth with his major league-leading 44th double but was left stranded at third when Nick Markakis flew out to left to end the inning.
Nate McLouth led off the eighth with a single to right-center and was bunted over by Machado to move into scoring position with just one out. But with runners on the corners and two outs, Matt Wieters grounded out to the shortstop to end the scoring threat.
The Orioles lost the game in the second Wild Card race that they had gained by beating Oakland on Friday night. They also failed to capitalize on another great outing by Tillman.
Tillman had been in-line for the win in two of his previous three starts. And Saturday, he was near the best he's been all year, but Baltimore didn't have the run support to back him.
Late in the season, wins are crucial. And the Orioles know that. But now they'll turn their attention to trying to win the series against the Athletics and finishing the homestand with a winning record.
"Every game is important," Tillman said. "A loss always stinks. They're never fun. What we're looking forward to is tomorrow and getting the series win."
NOTES: Jason Hammel is expected to make a rehab start for Class-AA Bowie either Wednesday or Thursday, if all goes well with his throwing session today. Hammel has been out with a right forearm injury. ... Wilson Betemit's rehab assignment comes to an end Monday, but the Orioles are planning on trying to get an extension. ... Miguel Gonzalez was available out of the bullpen Saturday and will be the next few days. He is still slated to start Friday in New York.