KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Chris Tillman paid no attention to the Baltimore bullpen as it started to stir in the ninth inning. After all, he had made it this far before. There was no way he was leaving the game now.
So after a leadoff single to start the inning, Tillman bore down against the Kansas City Royals. The young right-hander induced three straight groundouts to end the game, wrapping up a 4-0 victory for the Orioles and giving Tillman his first career shutout.
“I’ll take more of them,” he said, “but that’s not my goal.”
Maybe not. But it sure is nice.
Tillman came within two outs of a nine-inning complete game earlier this season, and he was incensed when he was pulled from an eventual 3-1 win over Detroit. He hadn’t been any happier of late, either, after scuffling through his last five outings.
But behind a dastardly combination of curveballs, changeups and fastballs, Tillman (4-2) kept the offensively inept Royals off balance. He scattered five hits and a walk, his dominant outing coming one night after Wei-Yin Chen and four relievers combined to beat Kansas City 2-1.
Chris Davis homered and Steve Clevenger also drove in a run for the Orioles.
“This is Tillman’s night,” the Royals’ Billy Butler said. “You’ve got to give him credit. He did his job today. He was locating, throwing all of his pitches. He did a heck of a job.”
Jeremy Guthrie (2-3) bounced back from a lousy start to last eight innings against his former team. The Royals’ starter allowed four runs, eight hits and a walk while striking out two.
While falling to 0-3 with four no-decisions in his last seven starts, Guthrie at least was able to save a bullpen that had been chewed up in that close loss the previous night.
“He threw the ball well. He really did,” Royals manager Ned Yost said.
As for that offense, which has managed one run in the last two games?
“Offenses heat up, cool off,” Yost said. “Right now we don’t have anybody where I can sit back and say this boy is really swinging the bat well right now.”
The game was played in a brisk 2 hours, 22 minutes, mostly because the starters were so effective. Tillman retired 13 of 14 batters after giving up a double to Norichika Aoki to start the game, and Guthrie only allowed a single by J.J. Hardy over the first three innings.
Baltimore finally got to Guthrie in the fourth, and it was partly his own doing.
Manny Machado led off by bunting back toward Guthrie, and he slipped while trying to field the ball. His hurried throw to first was wide of the bag for an error, and Machado trotted over to second base. Moments later, he headed for third when Guthrie threw a wild pitch.
Davis walked to put runners on the corners for Cruz, whose single drove in the game’s first run. Clevenger then grounded into a fielder’s choice to give the Orioles a 2-0 lead.
It remained that way until the sixth, when consecutive singles again put runners on the corners. Cruz then lofted a fly ball deep enough to center to bring home Adam Jones.
Davis added his third homer of the season with two outs in the eighth.
By that point, the only drama was whether Tillman would finish the game. The Orioles had two relievers up in the bullpen in the ninth, and the Royals got the leadoff man on base. But Tillman calmly got the next three batters to ground out to end the game.
“We talked to him between innings, like we always do. It was a lot of effort but there was no real stressful innings for him,” Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. “We had guys up and there was a point he was coming out of the game, but he was not going to be denied.”