Houston, TX (Sports Network) - Chris Tillman fired seven strong innings and
the Baltimore Orioles put an end to the Houston Astros' string of six straight
wins with a 4-1 victory at Minute Maid Park to open a three-game series
between the clubs.
The American League bottom-feeding Astros had returned home off a 6-0 road
trip, but Tillman (5-2) halted that momentum by yielding just one run and four
hits to go along with a season-best eight strikeouts.
"He had a lot of pitches working for him," Orioles manager Buck Showalter said
of Tillman. "That kept them from sitting on him."
He had support from the last two spots of the Orioles' batting order, with
Ryan Flaherty going 2-for-4 with an RBI single and Danny Valencia cracking a
solo homer in Baltimore's fifth triumph in its last six tests.
The Orioles also scored a pair of runs off Houston errors that helped spoil a
solid seven-inning performance from Astros starter Lucas Harrell.
Harrell (4-7) held Baltimore to two runs -- one earned -- and five hits while
fanning six without a walk in the hard-luck defeat.
Brandon Barnes had two of the Astros' five hits, including a solo homer off
Tillman in the sixth inning.
"(Harrell) kept us in the ballgame, but we couldn't get that big hit," Barnes
Valencia broke a scoreless deadlock with an opposite-field blast to open the
third inning. Manny Machado doubled two batters later, took third on a Harrell
wild pitch, then came home when Astros first baseman Chris Carter mishandled
Adam Jones' two-out grounder for a 2-0 Baltimore edge.
Harrell shut the Orioles down thereafter, giving up just one more hit and
wrapping up his stint with 10 consecutive outs.
Tillman, tagged for four homers over 4 2/3 innings in a loss to Washington on
Wednesday, surrendered a single to Barnes to begin his night, then didn't
allow another hit until Barnes sent a fastball well over the wall in left to
put Houston on the board in the bottom of the sixth. The Baltimore righty had
set down 12 hitters in a 13-man span prior to the blast.
The Astros managed only two more singles against Tillman and relievers Tommy
Hunter and Jim Johnson the rest of the way, and the Orioles created some
distance with single runs in the final two frames.
Nate McLouth single-handedly put the Orioles up 3-1 after singling off Wesley
Wright to start the eighth and stealing both second and third, with Astros
catcher Jason Castro throwing errantly on the final attempt to allow him to
cross the plate.
Flaherty followed a J.J. Hardy double in the ninth with a run-scoring single
to complete the scoring, and Johnson worked around a single in the ninth to
post his 19th save.
Baltimore has prevailed in seven straight meetings with the Astros, but had
never previously won in Houston. The O's were swept in a three-game set in
their only prior visit to Minute Maid Park in June of 2003 ... Tillman
improved to 10-1 in 12 career starts against AL West teams and is now 4-0 with
a 2.30 ERA in five road assignments this season ... The Orioles, who lead the
majors in home runs (82), have now put up at least two extra-base hits in 32
consecutive games ... Houston fell to 9-22 at home, the worst mark in the
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