BALTIMORE - Chris Tillman continues to pitch like an ace for the Baltimore Orioles.
When the right-hander has his best stuff, he is tough for opponents to hit. And when he doesn't, he often makes in-game adjustments and is able to still get deep into games.
Friday night's performance against the Toronto Blue Jays was one of the latter. Tillman said he didn't have his best stuff early, but he adjusted and had a terrific outing that gave Baltimore a great chance to win.
The only problems were, the Orioles' typically solid defense wasn't so solid. And their typically powerful lineup didn't show much power.
Despite an eight-inning performance from Tillman, Baltimore fell 2-0 before 22,327 as a two-error fourth inning and a lack of offense proved to be costly.
Jonathan Schoop committed both errors, leading to two unearned runs, the only runs surrendered by Tillman.
"I wish I played better defense for Tillman," Schoop said. "He pitched a great game."
With one out, Jose Bautista hit a groundball deep in the hole to Schoop, who has been filling in at third base with Gold Glove third baseman Manny Machado on the disabled list and shortstop J.J. Hardy out due to back spasms.
Schoop sent the ball sailing over first baseman Chris Davis' head allowing Bautista to reach.
After an Edwin Encarnacion single gave Toronto runners on first and second, Adam Lind hit a potential double-play ball to Schoop. But Schoop threw the ball past Ryan Flaherty covering second and into right field. Bautista scored, and the Jays had a 1-0 lead.
Dioner Navarro then hit into a fielder's choice, picking up an RBI as Encarnacion scored and Toronto (6-5) extended its lead to 2-0 with another unearned run.
"It could have happened early on in the game when I was missing and we wouldn't even be talking about it," Tillman said. "I trust these guys day in and day out and I think. Like I said, it's baseball. Those things happen."
Those errors were just the second and third ones committed by Baltimore this season. And had it not been for them, Tillman (1-1) and the Orioles (4-6) may have had a different end result.
Beginning with the fielder's choice to Navarro in the fourth, Tillman retired 13 straight batters before giving up a two-out single to Melky Cabrera in the eighth, the third and final hit he allowed.
Through his first three starts, Tillman has given up just two earned runs in 21.1 innings pitched. And dating back to last season, he has pitched seven innings or more in eight of his last 11 starts.
"He's kind of picked up where he left off last year," Baltimore manager Buck Showalter said. "His last three innings were probably as crisp as you can get."
Although Tillman said he wasn't too satisfied with his pitches, he impressed his teammates.
"That was one of the best I've ever seen Tillman throw to be honest with you," Orioles center fielder Adam Jones said. "They've got some thump over there and he threw the ball tremendous."
The Orioles' bats struggled throughout. Blue Jays starter Dustin McGowan (1-1), who won for the first time since 2008, held Baltimore scoreless on five hits over 6.1 innings.
The Orioles had their best chance to score in the bottom of the fifth. With two outs, Nick Markakis slapped a single the opposite way. Then, Delmon Young singled up the middle.
Chris Davis followed with the third straight single, pulling one to right. But Baltimore third base coach Bobby Dickerson held up Markakis at third on what likely would have been a close play.
Jones had a chance to plate the Orioles' first runs, but he flew out to center field to end the inning.
Baltimore also had several hard-hit balls throughout the game that looked as if they may be headed for the stands, but they came up just short.
"Guys had really good at-bats the entire game," Jones said. "There will be days when we bloop them and they all find a home, but tonight, nothing. Crickets out there."
NOTE: Orioles reliever Brian Matusz was not at the game Friday night, as he was in the hospital due to illness. Showalter said Matusz may stay overnight and he is unsure of the left-hander's status for Saturday.