By Brittany Ghiroli and Alejandro Zúñiga
DETROIT -- There was no late-inning drama, no counting down the outs to history, but Baltimore's Chris Tillman almost pitched a no-hitter Saturday night. He allowed a single to Tigers leadoff man Ian Kinsler in the first inning, then only one walk through a season-high eight innings in the Orioles' 3-0 win at Comerica Park.
Tillman mowed down the last 23 batters he faced, striking out eight and outdueling All-Star Game winner David Price, who recorded a season-high-tying 12 strikeouts. Price's lone blemish on an otherwise stellar night was a hanging curveball in the third inning to Manny Machado, who crushed it for his 20th home run of the year.
It was all the offense Tillman would need, though the O's tacked on two runs in the ninth. With 105 pitches on his ledger and history not a factor, Tillman was relieved by Zach Britton, who worked a 1-2-3 ninth for his 24th save. With the win, the Orioles climbed back to .500 while the Tigers fell to the .500 mark -- both at 45-45.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Tillman dominates: The O's Opening Day starter -- who entered the game with a 5.40 ERA -- began the second half in style. Tillman was economical all night and turned in his best outing of the year, lowering his ERA to 4.96. More >
"A little reminder, Chris was one of the best pitchers last year in the American League," Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. "It's one of the best offensive teams in the league, maybe in baseball. So that makes it doubly impressive."
"It's good. It's a process though. I think we have to keep working," Tillman said. "It was good to have stuff to go deep in the game. It's been there the last three, four or five times but the hitters didn't cooperate."
Escaping trouble: Orioles center fielder Adam Jones narrowly missed adding to his club's lead in the sixth inning when his line drive to left field hit off the top of the fence and stayed in play. Jones looked frustrated to settle for a leadoff double, and Price worked out of the jam by striking out Matt Wieters and Chris Davis, and inducing a Jonathan Schoop groundout following an error by third baseman Nick Castellanos.
"He was pretty good from the first pitch," Tigers manager Brad Ausmus said of Price. "I don't think he really wavered. He had his velocity; his changeup was outstanding. Pitch count got up a little early, but as good pitchers do, they find a way to get through seven or eight."
Joseph gets RISPy: Baltimore's well-documented struggles with runners in scoring position were evident through most of the game as the O's went 0-for-5 in their first few chances to put them in an 8-for-100 stretch. Though they didn't do much damage against Price, they made the left-hander work early, forcing him to throw 66 pitches through three innings. That obligated Detroit to turn to its bullpen in the eighth inning, and Baltimore capitalized in the ninth when catcher Caleb Joseph lined a two-run single to center field off Bruce Rondon.
"[It was] a needed W, that's all," Machado said of being the only run up until the final inning. "We've got to grind it out, grind it out, especially with a pitcher like [Price]. You've got to grind it and see what happens. Whatever comes your way, take advantage of it fully."
Spark won't catch: The Tigers' only two baserunners of the night came in the first inning. Kinsler lined Tillman's first pitch of the game for a leadoff single and Martinez drew a one-out walk. Detroit's one hit set a season low.
"Looked like [Tillman's] fastball was getting on some hitters, a little sneaky," Ausmus said. "He did an excellent job."
"Believe it or not, regardless of what it says on paper, you actually have to go out there and play the game on grass. So if we just played it on paper, we could have said we won, because David Price had a better ERA than Tillman. But that's not how the game works." -- Ausmus, on Detroit's struggles against Tillman
"Getting closer. That's one, I got a lot more to go. And I've got to do it consistently to get back to where I was last year and the year before. I was happy with it, but we got to do it again." -- Tillman, on regaining his form
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• The 23-year-old Machado reached 20 home runs with his third-inning solo blast off Price. He has already blown away his previous career-high mark of 14.
"It's awesome. It's awesome to be healthy," said Machado, who had season-ending knee surgery the past two years. "Just hard work pays off. It's been paying off and it's been a tough couple years for me, but I'm just glad that I'm healthy and able to perform out there and give it my all. Help my team win. At the end of the day that's the only thing that matters."
• Price became just the third pitcher this year to take a loss despite striking out 12 batters.
The Tigers caught a break in the ninth inning when Machado's line drive to right field one-hopped the wall and hit a railing for a ground-rule double, potentially preventing Joseph from scoring from first base. Showalter challenged the play, and the umpires confirmed the call after a brief review.
WHAT'S NEXT Orioles:Miguel Gonzalez will take the mound in Sunday's series finale (1:08 p.m. ET), his first start of the second half. The righty started the season strong but has allowed six runs in two of his last three starts.
Tigers: While Detroit hasn't won any of the five games Justin Verlander has started, the right-hander pitched extremely well in his last outing on July 10, allowing only one run to Minnesota over 7 2/3 innings. Verlander last faced Baltimore in Game 2 of the 2014 AL Division Series, when he yielded three earned runs over five frames.