Tillman's strong turn keeps rotation on track

O's right-hander goes 7 1/3 scoreless innings with 9 K's against KC

Tillman's strong turn keeps rotation on track

BALTIMORE -- Don't look now, but the Orioles' rotation has had quality starts in three of the past four games.

Baltimore's much-maligned starting pitching was able to get on track during the latter part of the homestand, which was capped with Chris Tillman's 7 1/3-inning gem -- his best start of the season -- in a 4-0 win over the Royals on Wednesday night to complete a three-game series sweep.

"I think fastball command from the get-go was pretty spot on," Tillman said of a 110-pitch outing in which he threw 83 for strikes. "I felt pretty good in the bullpen coming in and I was able to carry it over."

Tillman matched his career high with nine strikeouts and scattered eight hits. He didn't allow a walk for just the second time all season and extended his winning streak to a career-high-tying seven games. He is 8-1 with a 3.01 ERA.

"You can make a heck of a living going 11-11 in the big leagues," Orioles manager Buck Showalter said, referring to Tillman's 2015 record. "But Chris wants to be better than that because he knows he's capable of it and wants to bring what the club needs. I also think it's just part of the process. You get a lot of guys his age just kind of understanding what they have to do to be successful. And that's not only during the season, but during the offseason. It's a certain maturity factor. It's tunnel vision toward that day you pitch. Everything you do is leading into that. That's where he is now. He relishes the day he gets to do his thing."

Tillman exited with runners on first and second in the eighth inning to a standing ovation from the home crowd. Righty Brad Brach kept the Royals off the board and Tillman's line intact, picking up his second save of the season.

"Tillman was pretty darn good tonight, I'm going to tell you that," Royals manager Ned Yost said. "Guys were having trouble picking up his fastball. Brach was really, really good. You kind of get the same feeling that other teams have against us. You better have the lead by the fifth or sixth inning. If you don't, you're pretty much going to get shut down. Tillman did a great job of locating pitches, really used his fastball well, and we had a hard time picking it up."

Brittany Ghiroli has covered the Orioles for MLB.com since 2010. 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.