"Some guys see Verlander in the opposite slot and they shy away," Baltimore manager Buck Showalter said. "Tillman takes that as a challenge."
Tillman (1-0) gave up five hits, including Torii Hunter's solo homer in the fourth. The right-hander was thankful to match a career-high 8 1/3 innings after missing some spots he was targeting.
"I know I got away with a couple of pitches," Tillman said. "I tried to go down and away, but I missed up."
Tommy Hunter replaced Tillman with one out in the ninth and Victor Martinez on second base and retired the last two batters for his second save. When Baltimore opened with a 2-1 win against Baltimore, Tillman allowed one run over five innings and didn't factor in the decision.
Baltimore, which had lost four straight since beating the Red Sox, handed baseball's last undefeated team its first setback of the season.
The Orioles had shortstop J.J. Hardy in the lineup, but scratched him because he had back spasms during batting practice.
"Frankly, it's not much better now," Showalter said.
Before the game, Showalter said Verlander has become better because he's more of a pitcher and less of a hard-throwing righty that he used to be.
Verlander (0-1) gave up two runs on five hits and two walks over eight innings. He struck out three, moving past Tommy Bridges and into fourth place on the franchise's all-time list with 1,674 in his career, but isn't pleased with that part of facet of his game after fanning just two in his first start.
"You get a feel for strikeouts and my feel for those isn't there yet," Verlander said. "I'm not executing as well as I should or maybe over-trying a little bit with two strikes and hanging stuff."
Baseball's replay system was temporarily unavailable early in the game for the Tigers. Both managers were informed of the technical difficulty during the first inning and it was repaired after a half-inning, Detroit manager Brad Ausmus said.
Tillman had more strikeouts (five) than the Tigers had hits (four) against him through eight innings.
After Tillman got Cabrera to ground out for the first out in the ninth, he gave up a double to Martinez that brought the fans to their feet. Hunter then struck out Austin Jackson for the second out of the inning and got Tyler Collins to bounce out for the last one.
Torii Hunter homered for the third straight game -- for the first time since 2006 -- to make it 1-0 Tigers.
Baltimore tied it at 1 in the sixth inning when Nelson Cruz doubled home Jones, who also hit a double. The Orioles went ahead 3-1 in the ninth after Al Alburquerque replaced Verlander and allowed Matt Wieters to homer.
The Tigers scored 17 runs and had 30 hits in the previous two wins against Baltimore, but were kept quiet at the plate in the series finale.
"Bats cooled a little bit, but I think that had more to do with Tillman than anything else," Ausmus said after his first loss.
Orioles stay on the road to play the New York Yankees on Monday afternoon. ... Ausmus was the first to begin his career with four straight win since Clint Hurdle of Colorado and Jerry Royster of Milwaukee both did it in 2002.
Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press
DETROIT, MI - APRIL 06: Chris Tillman #30 of the Baltimore Orioles pitches in the second inning of the game...
34,261 (83% full) - % is based on regular season capacity
50 degrees, sunny
Home Plate - Kerwin Danley, First Base - Lance Barksdale, Second Base - Mark Ripperger, Third Base - Gary Cederstrom
Chris Davis managed just four home runs against pitches 93 mph or faster in 2013 in 109 at-bats (26.5 AB/HR). This was low compared to his 49 home runs in 487 at-bats (9.9 AB/HR) against pitches slower than 93 mph. In 2013, Justin Verlander allowed home runs in just 1.5 percent of plate appearances that ended in a pitch of 93 mph or greater.