Tillman working through inconsistent start to year

Right-hander fans seven, but allows five earned runs over 4 2/3 innings vs. Rays

Tillman working through inconsistent start to year

BALTIMORE -- Chris Tillman's inconsistent season continued on Sunday afternoon.

Tillman -- the Orioles' Opening Day starter -- lasted 4 2/3 innings in Sunday's 9-5 loss to the Rays, allowing six runs (five earned) on nine hits and three walks. The 93-pitch outing saw his losing streak increase to six, a career-high, and his season ERA jump to 5.94.

"I am making some good pitches, but not enough," said Tillman, who threw 58 strikes on Sunday. "When I'm falling behind, not making that quality pitch to get out of it. It's frustrating. It really is. But we don't stop working, we've got to get better. We all know that. And I've got some work to do."

The right-hander is winless since April 18, and has gone 0-6 with a 6.10 ERA over that seven-game stretch, allowing 26 earned runs over 38 1/3 innings. Additionally, his seven losses on the season matches a career high -- set in a 2013 season in which he went 16-7 -- before June has begun.

Tillman, who got off to a slow start last year before going 13-6 with a 3.34 ERA, still has time to turn things around.

"If anyone has been there, it's been me. I've had my ups and down," he said. "I feel like we are headed in the right direction. I saw a lot of positives today. I think the negatives kind of overwhelm it, but I think we are getting somewhere. I've just got to make the last big step and we will be alright."

Orioles manager Buck Showalter echoed Tillman's optimism that the righty, who has not made it through five innings in four of his 10 starts, would get on track soon.

"Chris is a 27-year-old man with a lot of success behind him. He's very close, and he's going to pitch good for us this year and hopefully for a long time," Showalter said. "Keep that in mind. He was very close to having a real good outing today.

"It will turn. It's just [tough] watching a good pitcher not having the return he's capable of."

Brittany Ghiroli is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, Britt's Bird Watch, follow her on Facebook and Twitter @britt_ghiroli, and listen to her podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.