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Orioles right-hander Chris Tillman takes another step in righting his season

It wasn't all that long ago that fans were calling for right-hander Chris Tillman to be removed from the Orioles starting rotation.

Of course, that wasn't going to happen. Manager Buck Showalter had faith that Tillman would turn his season around.

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Back on June 21, Tillman suffered through his shortest outing of the season, lasting just 1 1/3 innings and allowing six runs on six hits against the Toronto Blue Jays in an eventual 13-9 win at the Rogers Centre.

Since then, Tillman has posted six consecutive starts allowing two runs or fewer, capped by his 8 2/3 scoreless innings in the Orioles' 2-0 win over the Braves on Wednesday night, completing Baltimore's three-game sweep of Atlanta.

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Tillman was just one out away from recording his second career complete-game shutout Wednesday before Cameron Maybin's two-out double in the ninth prompted manager Buck Showalter to go to closer Zach Britton for the final out in the ninth.

As Showalter jogged out to the mound, he received a round of boos from the Camden Yards crowd, but that quickly turned to cheers as Tillman left the game to a standing ovation.

"Guys like him are striving for perfection in a job in the world that just won't let it happen," Showalter said. "He came close to it tonight. I can't say that it's ever a focus or a want-to issue with him. That's why we have so much confidence in him when you start talking about track record. He's going to figure it out. He's not just going to say, 'It's just one of those bad starts you have.' He wants to have 35 good starts and that's what he focuses on. And he'll focus on it again in the next four days."

Since that outing in Toronto, Tillman has recorded five quality starts in six outings – including four straight - going 3-0 with a 1.09 ERA over that span. The Orioles are 8-2 in Tillman's past 10 starts.

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"The thing with Tilly is he just sticks to it and trusts the process, and trusts that the work he's going to put into it is going to pay off, and that's tough to do, especially when you have a rough outing," catcher Matt Wieters said. "Just more of his mentality than everything else. There was no one in this clubhouse that was worried about him at the beginning of the year."

Last season, Tillman went through a rocky stretch from mid-May to early June – a four-start stretch when he posted a 12.56 ERA and failed to record an out in the second inning twice. At that time, he had a 5.20 season ERA. But after that, he found his groove and went 8-4 with a 2.38 ERA over his final 21 starts to finish the season 13-6 with a 3.34 ERA.

This year, he has gone through the same trend. After his first 14 starts, Tillman was 5-7 with a 6.22 ERA. After Wednesday's outing, his season ERA is down to 4.35.

And take away Tillman's four starts against the Blue Jays – he has a 15.00 ERA (25 earned runs in 15 innings) – and he is 8-4 with a 2.74 ERA in his other 16 starts this season.

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