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Orioles notes: Brad Brach trying to find consistency in rocky second half

BOSTON — Orioles right-hander Brad Brach has served as the team's set-up man in Darren O'Day's absence, but in the team's 3-1 victory over the Detroit Tigers on Sunday, Brach was used in the seventh inning and rookie right-hander Mychal Givens pitched in a set-up role.

Brach has struggled to keep his first-half All-Star form in the second half of the season, posting a 3.80 ERA in 21 1/3 innings after the break. He owned a 0.80 ERA heading into the break.

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Sunday's outing was Brach's first since allowing a game-winning home run to Victor Martinez in the eighth inning of a tied game in the Orioles' 4-3 loss Friday in Detroit. It was the third homer Brach has allowed since the break; he also allowed three home runs before the break, but in more than twice as many innings pitched.

"I know you can look at the entire second half, but really the last two runs I've given up have been one pitch," Brach said. "The one pitch the other night was obviously not the way you want to do it, but it is what it is, and I just need to be ready and just trying not to think about too much and just execute pitching as get the job done."

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Brach said he tried not to think took much about pitching in a different role Sunday.

"I think I've just got to get back to when the phone rings being ready to pitch," Brach said. "I didn't put too much thought into it. I thought maybe it might be multiple [innings] or whatever. I just know sometimes with matchups, [Orioles manager Buck Showalter] wants Mychal to face some guys. At this point in the season, as long as I'm pitching in games and helping us win, I really don't care when I pitch."

With O'Day's return seemingly on the horizon – he could return later this week after throwing a simulated game on Tuesday – Showalter will have another late-inning weapon and Brach would likely return to the seventh inning, anyway. Still, Brach reversing his second-half fortunes – as well as the healthy return of O'Day – would be helpful to the Orioles' playoff push.

"I feel good," Brach said. "It's just that time of the month when you really need to execute pitches. I know I've been harping on that over and over again, but if you make even a little bit of a mistake, you're going to get hurt, especially against the guy you've faced a bunch. I enjoy the cat-and-mouse game, but it gets tough when you've faced these guys five, six, seven, eight, nine times a year as a reliever, they've seen everything you've got. You know what they're trying to do."

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Tillman feeling good day after return: Showalter said that right-hander Chris Tillman, who made his first start after coming off the disabled list on Sunday, felt soreness in the right spots Monday.

"Chris felt sore like most players are," Showalter said of Tillman, who was on the disabled list with right shoulder bursitis. "I don't think people realize the transition from the day you pitch until the next day you pitch you feel soreness. Shoulder feels good. So he'll take a day and see how tomorrow feels. That's good to hear."

Tillman battled through some early control issues on Sunday, going six innings and allowing just one run on four hits. The Orioles will continue to monitor Tillman, who returned from the disabled list without any simulated game activity.

Gallardo scheduled for Thursday: Right-hander Yovani Gallardo is scheduled to start Thursday's game against the Tampa Bay Rays.

Gallardo was essentially skipped this time through the rotation. He hasn't started since Sept. 6, when he allowed two runs – one earned – on five hits over five innings in a 11-2 win at Tampa Bay. He has allowed three earned runs or fewer in six of his last seven starts.

Gallardo has seen much more success against Tampa Bay (2-2, 3.55 ERA in nine games) than he has against the Red Sox (1-2, 6.41, in four starts) over his career, and has posted a 7.20 ERA in two starts against Boston this season.

Around the horn: Showalter said it will be decided after O'Day's simulated game on Tuesday whether he might need another simulated session. …OF Joey Rickard (thumb) is eligible to return from the 60-day disabled list next week, but Showalter said he wasn't sure whether Rickard will be ready in time. "It's still a little early," Showalter said of Rickard, who is currently in Sarasota with a group of minor leaguers remaining active in case there's a need for additional September call-ups. He will start hitting this week.

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