With arguably the best offense in baseball, the Baltimore Orioles know their biggest area of concern is on the mound. Just not lately when Chris Tillman is there.
Tillman looks to win his fourth straight start Wednesday as the visiting Orioles close a three-game set against the Detroit Tigers.After spending the first half of last season in the minors, Tillman was a different pitcher upon his return to the Orioles and finished 9-3 with a 2.93 ERA in 15 starts.Although he had some uneven performances early this season, Tillman (7-2, 3.61 ERA) has been outstanding lately. He is 3-0 with a 1.42 ERA in three starts this month, allowing 11 hits in 19 innings.The right-hander has saved some of his best pitching for the road, where he is 5-0 with a 2.41 ERA in six outings. He's 9-1 with a 2.97 ERA in his past 13 away from Baltimore.Tillman limited Boston to three hits over six-plus innings and allowed only one runner past second base in a 2-0 victory Friday."I said it in the spring," manager Buck Showalter said. "Chris came in full aware that he was out of options. But he pitched like a guy who had three and didn't want to go to (Triple-A) Norfolk. And that shows a lot of maturity, because he wanted to be a guy for us this year -- and he has been so far."Tillman is 1-0 in four starts against the Tigers but hasn't faced them since April 7, 2011.One night after they were shut down by Max Scherzer, the Orioles (41-31) bounced back with two home runs off Justin Verlander in a 5-2 victory Tuesday. Adam Jones hit a three-run shot and J.J. Hardy added a two-run blast in support of Zach Britton's first win since Sept. 4."We battled against (Verlander)," said Jones, who has four homers and 13 RBIs in his last 10 games. "Sometimes you get beat, and tonight, we beat him."With its seventh win in 10 games overall, Baltimore improved to 11-5 this season against division leaders Boston, Detroit (39-30) and Oakland.The Orioles have homered in seven straight games, raising their major league-leading total to 95. They also rank among the top five in runs, batting average, doubles and slugging percentage.Detroit's five-game home win streak was snapped despite two hits from Miguel Cabrera, who is 9 for 21 (.429) with three homers and eight RBIs against Baltimore this year.He's 3 for 7 with a home run and a double off Tillman.Something of an afterthought in a loaded rotation, Rick Porcello (4-3, 4.37) has been anything but for the Tigers lately.The right-hander is 2-1 with a 1.33 ERA in his last four starts. He's stuck out 30 over 27 innings during that span, allowing 15 hits and four walks."I've honestly really felt confident all year," Porcello said. "I like what I've been working on, especially in the offseason going into spring training, and I'm starting to get some good results from it now."He got more of that in a 4-0 win at Minnesota on Friday, yielding three hits without a walk in seven innings.Porcello is 1-4 with a 4.50 ERA in six career starts against the Orioles, who reached him for three runs over six innings in a 4-2 victory June 2.Chris Davis homered in that game and has gone deep twice off Porcello in nine career at-bats. Davis was 0 for 4 on Tuesday after hitting his major league-best 24th homer and fourth in six games in the series opener.