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Two-homer games by Young, Machado can't save Tillman in 9-5 loss to Rays

When independently asked, Orioles manager Buck Showalter and right-hander Chris Tillman both say that there is no real concern with Tillman this season, that his uncharacteristically-high ERA and dismal record is a confluence of some bad luck and subpar moments.

"Chris is a 27-year-old man with a lot of success behind him," Showalter said after Tillman and the Orioles lost 9-5 to the Tampa Bay Rays Sunday afternoon. "He's very close, and he's going to pitch good for us this year and hopefully for a long time. Keep that in mind. He was very close to having a real good outing today."

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Instead of a good outing, Tillman (2-7) lost his sixth straight decision – a career worst – saw his season ERA close in on 6.00 again (5.94) and failed to pitch five innings for the fourth time in 10 starts this season.

Always brutally honest in postgame interviews no matter his performance, Tillman said this stretch feels dismal in one sense and yet it's not completely disheartening.

"Results-wise yeah. But the process is there and you can't cheat it," said Tillman, who allowed six runs (five earned) on nine hits and three walks in 4 2/3 innings. "We have been doing the work needed and I think the results will come. That's the way I've been my whole career, you got to go through the process. Stay true to who you are and it's going to come."

Who Tillman has been for the past two-and-a-half seasons is the Orioles' most reliable and consistent starter, a strike thrower and a bulldog who seemingly gives his club a chance to win every time he takes the mound.

In 2015, he's won twice, and not since April 18. His seven losses already match his big-league high, which he set in 2013 went he was 13-7 in 33 starts.

"Mentally, I'm good. I feel really good with where I'm at," said Tillman, who also said he was fine physically. "It's just execution; it all comes down to execution. You make a pitch, we get out of it. We are sitting here celebrating, instead of going on the road with a loss."

Playing before an announced crowd of 36,945 at Camden Yards, the Orioles (23-26) weren't particularly crisp again. The defense was subpar: Delmon Young made an errant throw that led to a run, Steve Pearce threw to the wrong base, and a few potentially-catchable balls dropped in for hits. The offense did little besides getting two-homer games from Young and Manny Machado.

Twice in the past week, the Orioles faced a club on a lengthy losing streak, and won the first game before losing the next two. Last weekend, the Miami Marlins snapped an eight-game skid, winning on Saturday night and Sunday afternoon; this weekend, the Rays had dropped six in a row before beating the Orioles in consecutive afternoon games, Saturday and Sunday.

Sandwiched in between, the Orioles took two of three from the Houston Astros, the club with the best record in the American League, and split a doubleheader with the struggling Chicago White Sox.

Such has been the season so far for the Orioles, who haven't won more than two in a row since late April. They also haven't lost more than two consecutively since dropping four straight from May 4 to May 8. Despite the seesaw, they remain in third place in the AL East, two games behind the Rays (26-25) and Yankees (26-25).

"Maybe this is the Orioles scuffling, but we can turn it around," Pearce said. "It is still early, we are still no more than [two] games back. Once we get hot we know we can do damage. We just haven't hit that stride yet."

At times, Tillman was good Sunday, striking out seven batters, including four consecutively.

At times, Tillman was unlucky. In the fifth, he walked Evan Longoria on a two-out, full-count pitch, which was followed by an infield single and a RBI bloop to left-center field that dropped in front of Pearce and out of center fielder David Lough's reach.

The Orioles had Lough, who is filling in for injured starter Adam Jones, shaded to right-center, based on where the Rays had hit in previous games.

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"I could show you some spray charts and stuff where they hit some balls in this series [where] they've never hit balls here," Showalter said.

That play set up a three-run homer by Steven Souza Jr. that destroyed Tillman's outing. All six runs allowed by Tillman came with two outs.

"I was shaded right from the get-go … so I wasn't able to make the play and obviously Pearce couldn't make the play as well," Lough said. "It was just one of those balls that got down and it was kind of the turning point in the game, really, because Souza ended up hitting that three-run shot there. It's unfortunate."

Young provided the Orioles their early offense – on two pitches.

He homered on the first pitch he saw from Jake Odorizzi in the first, planting it into the visitor's bullpen in left-center to give the Orioles a 1-0 lead. It was Young's first homer since Aug. 29, 2014, against the Minnesota Twins.

Young tied the game in the third on another first-pitch, cutting fastball from Odorizzi. That one landed in the left-field seats near the foul pole. It gave Young his fourth multi-homer game of his career and was the third by an Orioles hitter this year.

Machado became the fourth with a two-run homer against Odorizzi (4-5) in the seventh and a solo shot versus Xavier Cedeno in the ninth. It was the fourth multi-homer game of Machado's career and his second this season.

In Young's first four career at-bats against Odorizzi, he was 4-for-4 with three homers. Odorizzi walked Young on four pitches in the fifth. The Orioles loaded the bases that inning on Odorizzi, who threw eight of nine pitches for balls before getting Pearce to ground out on a first-pitch cutter.

Pearce said he was looking fastball and thought he had the pitch he wanted, but it cut away from him at the last moment. The Orioles attempted a late rally, but ultimately they dropped two of three at home to a struggling team and now head to Houston to face the Astros again.

"One series loss isn't going to derail our season," Lough said. "Get better as a team and once things start clicking on all cylinders, watch out, because we are deadly. We are definitely a deadly team when everything is clicking. We just have to get to that page."

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