Carroll County Times

Homers power Birds past A's

OAKLAND, Calif. - Baltimore pitcher Chris Tillman was as surprised as anyone when manager Buck Showalter told him to grab a bat to hit in the seventh inning.

The Orioles right-hander understood the move - even if he ended up striking out.

Tillman was far more effective on the mound, pitching six innings for his first win of the season while helping Baltimore beat the Oakland Athletics 7-3 on Saturday.

"I wasn't expecting to get an at-bat today," said Tillman, who scattered seven hits with seven strikeouts and two walks. "We have to save our hitters for bigger situations. You have to pick your battles."

Tillman was pressed into hitting after an injury to catcher Taylor Teagarden forced the Orioles to abandon their DH.

Manager Buck Showalter didn't want to waste a hitter with two outs in the seventh so he opted to stick with Tillman, who had only one other at-bat in his big league career.

It didn't matter much.

The Orioles got back-to-back home runs from Nick Markakis and Adam Jones in the fourth inning, and Nate McLouth added his first of the season. Baltimore improved to 3-0 on its 11-game road trip and is in position for its first four-game sweep in Oakland since 1987.

"We have struggled and our record has not been very good here, but winning the first three is a good way to start the road trip," Markakis said. "We've got a good lineup, and when we're going good we're as good as anybody."

McLouth finished with three hits and two RBIs to spearhead Baltimore's offense.

Josh Donaldson matched his career high with four hits and two RBIs. The A's have lost four straight and eight of nine.

"We are just pressing right now and trying to do too much," Oakland manager Bob Melvin said. "I think everyone is just trying a little too hard right now."

The Orioles have outscored the A's 20-5 while taking the first three games of this series. They've also had three solid outings from their starting pitchers.

Tillman (1-1) settled down after a rocky start to earn his first win since Sept. 28. The right-hander, who was 9-3 a year ago, retired eight of his last 10 batters and picked off Donaldson at first in the sixth after the A's third baseman led off the inning with a single.

That gave Baltimore's bullpen a break and followed stellar starts by Jason Hammel and Wei-In Chen.

Brian Matusz, Darren O'Day, Pedro Strop and Jim Johnson pitched the final three innings to complete the Orioles eighth win in their last 10 games. Johnson pitched out of a bases loaded, no-out jam in the ninth for his 10th save.

"Tilly made a lot of good pitches with his fastball, just enough to slow them down," Showalter said. "When you're facing that many left-handed hitters you better have command of the fastball."

Oakland starter A.J. Griffin (2-2) allowed only five hits in seven innings but gave up two home runs for the second straight start.

The A's dropped their fourth straight and fell to 0-10 when held to under four runs.

Tillman got off to a slow start but limited the damage.

Donaldson doubled in Brandon Moss in the second, then drove in Seth Smith in the third with a sharp comebacker that appeared to ricochet off Tillman's heel and into the air behind second base.

Markakis tied it with his two-run home run on a 1-2 pitch, then Jones put the Orioles up 3-2 with his line drive over the wall in left-center.

It's the first time this season Baltimore has hit back-to-back homers.

J.J. Hardy's hit-and-run single later in the inning scored Chris Davis from first base to make it 4-2.

The game was halted briefly in the bottom of the sixth when Teagarden left with a dislocated left thumb after getting hit in the hand by a foul ball. Teagarden was replaced by Matt Wieters, who was originally in the lineup as a DH.

Showalter said after the game that Teagarden will likely be placed on the disabled list.

The change forced Tillman to bat for just the second time in his career, and the right-hander struck out looking to end the seventh.

McLouth led off the eighth with his first home run of the season, then Davis had a sacrifice fly to drive in Manny Machado.

Ryan Flaherty added an RBI double in the ninth.

The A's scored once in the eighth on Josh Reddick's sacrifice fly then loaded the bases in the ninth. But Johnson got Smith to fly out before Jed Lowrie grounded into a game-ending double play.

NOTES: Baltimore INF Brian Roberts (hamstring) has resumed running but there is still no timetable for his return from the disabled list. ... Orioles RHP Miguel Gonzalez (2-1) makes his first career start against the A's in the series finale. He'll oppose RHP Bartolo Colon (3-0), whose 32-inning streak without a walk ended in his most recent outing against Boston.