After long delay, Chris Tillman falls behind early and O's lose, 7-3

Orioles left fielder Lew Ford leaps but cannot catch a home run hit by Kansas City's Alex Gordon in the first inning Saturday.
Orioles left fielder Lew Ford leaps but cannot catch a home run hit by Kansas City's Alex Gordon in the first inning Saturday. (Joy R. Absalon-US PRESSWIRE, US PRESSWIRE)

As the skies opened and relented several times Saturday night at Camden Yards, Orioles right-hander Chris Tillman waited through a three-hour, nine-minute rain delay.

He sat at his locker but tried not to stay idle too long so he wouldn't tighten up. He went through his pregame stretching routine two separate times. But Mother Nature wasn't agreeable Saturday night. Showers stopped after two hours and the tarpaulin came off before it began raining heavily again, forcing another hour of delays.


Once the 24-year-old Tillman threw his first pitch 14 minutes after 10 p.m. Saturday night, the Kansas City Royals jumped on him early.

Tillman entered his seventh big league start of the season having allowed just two home runs in his first six starts, but he allowed three Royals homers in the first three innings Saturday night in an eventual 7-3 Orioles loss to Kansas City in front of an announced 40,456 on Eddie Murray sculpture unveiling night.


The Royals hit four homers on the night off Orioles pitching, including two by leadoff hitter Alex Gordon.

"It was a challenging night and they did a better job with it than we did," Orioles manager Buck Showalter said.

The Orioles (61-53) fell a half-game out of the American League wild-card spot – tied with the Detroit Tigers behind the Oakland Athletics and Tampa Bay Rays. They also slipped into third place in the AL East for just the third day since the All-Star break, falling 6½ games back of the division-leading Yankees and a half-game game behind the Rays for second place.

Tillman struggled with his control early, constantly battling from behind in the count. He didn't have a feel for his breaking ball all night, and it was evident early he was out of sync.

From his third pitch of the game, when Gordon took a 1-1 cutter over the left-center-field fence – his first of two homers on the night -- it appeared Tillman would be in for a long night. Of the 24 runs Tillman has allowed this season, 14 have been in the first inning.

"It was a battle," Tillman said. "I fell behind quite a bit tonight. It's tough pitching when you're behind in the count no matter how good your stuff is. I've got to be better at that. I know it's something I've got to work on, and it's a continuous work in progress there."

"Not a great night for me," he added. "Frustrating night. I was working up in the zone. Didn't have [the breaking ball] for the whole game. Got a couple of outs on it, but only when I was ahead in the count. [I] wish I would have pitched better."

Tillman found himself in a 4-0 hole in the third inning after giving up homers to Royals catcher Salvador Perez and designated hitter Billy Butler.

Tillman entered the night having allowed no more than two earned runs in five of his six previous starts – he allowed four earned runs at Yankee Stadium on July 31 – and had gone at least six innings in three of his previous four starts.

After Lorenzo Cain led off the second inning with a single to center, Perez jumped on a 1-1 cutter and lined it into the left-field stands for a two-run homer.

With two outs in the third, Butler was given the green light in a 3-0 count and took a 93-mph cutter off the top of the right-center-field fence for a solo shot.

Tillman was forced from the game with two outs in the sixth after hitting Perez with a pitch and walking Jeff Francoeur. Eric Hosmer then took reliever Miguel Socolovich's first pitch to center field to score Perez. Francoeur would score later on the front end of a double steal when Wieters tried to throw out Hosmer at second.


Tillman, who had won his previous four decisions, allowed a season-high six earned runs on six hits over 5 2/3 innings, striking out five, walking two and hitting a batter.

After Gordon hit his second homer of the game in the seventh –he took a full-count pitch from Socolovich to left field to seal his second career multi-homer game -- the Orioles rallied in the bottom of the seventh.

The Orioles were unable to break through against Royals starter Luis Mendoza, who held the Orioles scoreless for his first six innings before allowing three runs in the seventh.

They left seven men on base, including four in scoring position. They stranded a runner at third base in three different innings.

"Yeah, we had a few opportunities, but it seemed like they were all with two outs," left fielder Nate McLouth said. "I don't think we had any second and third, one outs, or guys on third and no outs or things like that. It was a couple maybe two-out situations, and those are tough to deliver. Sometimes you do and sometimes you don't. But he pitched well, and we'll go out and get them tomorrow."

With no outs and runners at first and second, rookie third baseman Manny Machado laced a double down the third base line to score one run. Sizzling No. 9 hitter Omar Quintanilla then hit a two-run single two cut the deficit to 7-3.

The Orioles couldn't inflict any more damage that inning – despite McLouth's two-out double, his second hit in his first game hitting in the No. 3 spot – stranding runners at second and third.

But both Tillman and Showalter refused to use the rain delay as an excuse for the loss.

"Same ballpark, same rain delay, same weather conditions," Showalter said. "They did a better job with it than we did."



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