By Brittany Ghiroli and Connor Smolensky
BALTIMORE-- Orioles Opening Day starter Chris Tillman continued his dominant second half, pitching 8 2/3 scoreless innings as Baltimore completed the sweep with a 2-0 win over Atlanta Wednesday night.
The O's, winners of their last five, recorded their first three-game series sweep since June 26-28 against Cleveland as they find themselves 51-49, just one game out for the second spot in the American League Wild Card.
"We've gone through a pretty good stretch here where our guys have been pretty good," Orioles manager Buck Showalter said of a staff that has gone 4-0 with a 1.25 ERA over the last six games. "It goes without saying it's something we're going to need while we try to figure out a way to get better offensively, which we have on a given night. But pitching like we've been pitching keeps you in every game. I'll take my chances with that."
Tillman, who has allowed one earned run in 23 2/3 innings since the All-Star Break, used solo homers from Jonathan Schoop and J.J. Hardy to record his eighth win of the year. Braves righty Mike Foltynewicz turned in a quality start despite the loss, striking out eight and allowing two runs over six innings.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Tillman keeps cruising: The righty held Atlanta to four hits in an outstanding effort that marked Baltimore's longest start of the season. At just 90 pitches through eight innings, Tillman took the mound to a rousing ovation, and exited it the same way after a two-out double from Cameron Maybin.
"I felt my command was good from the get-go," said Tillman, who is 3-0 with a 1.09 ERA over his last six games. "Better arm side than glove side. My changeup is what got me through that start. I made some good pitches early and late, when need be."
O's solo shots: Schoop and Hardy each tallied their seventh home run of the season. Schoop got things started with a leadoff blast in the third inning while Hardy sent a ball into the left-field seats with one out in the fourth.
"We've all known we were capable of it," Hardy said of the O's surge. "We've had some good stretches but just been inconsistent. We have to keep this little stretch rolling and see where we're at."
Foltynewicz fills in nicely: Foltynewicz was called up from Triple-A Gwinnett on Wednesday to fill in for Manny Banuelos, who was placed on the 15-day disabled list with left elbow inflammation on Tuesday. His only blemishes of the night were two solo homers. More >
"You have to tip your cap to those guys, but ... I would rather give up solo shots than a couple two or three-run home runs there, which I could have given up," Foltynewicz said.
Braves continue offensive woes: Atlanta ran into a red-hot Tillman, picking up just four hits during Wednesday night's shutout. The Braves were held to just four runs for the series, and collected just five runs in their last series against the Cardinals.
"I'm not ever going to give in to, we're not [going to], give in. There's no sympathy in this game. The great thing about it is, there's an opportunity around every corner to get things going, good or bad. You try to maintain the good spells. Obviously, this time of year, it's gets tougher to withstand a long tough spell." -- Showalter after the fifth straight win
The Braves used their manager challenge in the eighth inning on Andrelton Simmons' groundout to first base. After a review time of 2:42, the out call stood for the second out of the inning.
Braves:Shelby Miller (5-7, 2.27 ERA) will take the mound tomorrow at 7:05 p.m. ET when Atlanta begins a four-game series against the Phillies. Miller has taken the loss in his last three outings, and he'll aim to pick up his first win since May 17 against the Marlins. He's coming off a 7 1/3 inning performance where he gave up one run on two hits in a loss to the Cardinals.
Orioles:Miguel Gonzalez (9-6, 3.99 ERA) will take on the Tigers in a rematch of last weekend's series in Detroit. The O's will host a four-game series against the Tigers, with Gonzalez facing former Oriole Alfredo Simon in Wednesday's opener at 7:05 p.m. ET.