Efficient Chen is arguably O's top starter

Lefty needs just 87 pitches to complete eight innings vs. Rangers

Efficient Chen is arguably O's top starter

BALTIMORE -- Wei-Yin Chen is having quite a first half.

The Orioles lefty has become arguably the team's best starter, and he showed why Wednesday night, cruising through eight innings against a potent Rangers lineup to help Baltimore take a 4-2 win.

Chen held the Rangers to two runs, both solo homers, and went on to retire 13 of the final 14 batters he faced in a dominant 87-pitch outing. Chen needed just 65 pitches to get through the first six innings and used a pair of standout defensive plays from Manny Machado to get through a nine-pitch seventh. When he exited after a perfect eighth, it was to a rousing cheer at Camden Yards, with many fans getting to their feet to show their appreciation.

Machado's diving stop

"He was very efficient, solid," Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. "Like I said two or three times, it's usually not the solos that get you. I think he started mixing in some offspeed pitches -- that helped him after the first time around the batting order. He was solid."

Showalter contemplated sending Chen out to finish the game because of his low pitch count, but with closer Zach Britton -- who struck out the side in the ninth -- in the 'pen waiting and after a pair of long innings by the O's offense, he decided against it.

"I was going to try to keep him around 90-95 [pitches] tonight anyway and he was in the mid-to-late 80s," Showalter said. "Would rather let Zach start clean. Those long innings, he had a long one before the eighth and would have had another 20. But he was the difference tonight."

Chen has allowed two or fewer runs in his past five starts, and he has posted quality outings in five of his last six games. He's pitched to a 2.84 ERA in 95 innings this season, and Showalter said -- after Chen got a breather last month and was optioned to the Minors -- the team hopes to keep him on a regular schedule the rest of the way.

"Of course I'm happy to hear that," Chen said through his interpreter. "Because we talked about it and I'm happy that Buck trusts me. Also I just wanted to do my job well and keep pitching well until the end of the season."

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.