Tillman's winning streak ends as Twins rally past Orioles
BALTIMORE -- From the beginning of June until deep into August, Chris Tillman never took a loss.
The streak ended Saturday night in frustrating fashion.
Byron Buxton picked up his first major league RBI with a tiebreaking single in the seventh inning, and the Minnesota Twins extended their dominance of the Baltimore Orioles with a 3-2 victory Saturday night.
After overcoming a two-run deficit in the eighth inning on Friday night, Minnesota handed Tillman (9-8) his first defeat since May 31 despite trailing 1-0 in the sixth and 2-1 in the seventh.
"He pitched well enough to win," Orioles manager Buck Showalter said of Tillman, who allowed three runs and four hits in 6 2-3 innings.
Tillman won a career-high tying seven straight decisions over his previous 12 starts. Asked to assess his performance in this one, the right-hander said:
"I thought it was good, real good. Made a lot of pitches both early and late to get some key outs. "
Unfortunately, Tillman got very little offensive support in the Orioles' seventh straight loss to the Twins, the sixth this season.
After giving up a walk and bunt single in the first, Tillman retired 14 straight batters before Eduardo Escobar led off the sixth with a double. Escobar advanced on a bunt and tied the score at 1 when Brian Dozier bounced a single up the middle.
After Baltimore went back in front in the sixth on a sacrifice fly by J.J. Hardy, Minnesota took the lead for the first time in the seventh.
Tillman issued a one-out walk to Eddie Rosario, who advanced to third on a hit-and-run single by Torii Hunter. Kurt Suzuki followed with a squeeze bunt down the first-base line that left Tillman no choice but to throw to first as Rosario crossed the plate.
Brad Brach entered and walked Escobar intentionally before Buxton lined a single to left. Buxton, the second overall pick in the 2012 draft, came in hitting .208 (10 for 48) over 13 games i n his first major league season.
"It was nice to see him get his first RBI in a big situation," said Minnesota manager Paul Molitor, who turned 59 on Saturday.
With a victory Sunday, Minnesota will complete its first four-game sweep of Baltimore since August 2007.
"We have an opportunity tomorrow to do something that doesn't happen very often," Molitor said. "Just three days ago we were a couple games below .500. You keep pushing and trying to hang around."
The Orioles had won five of six before running into the Twins, who have enhanced their own position in the wild-card hunt while stalling Baltimore's momentum.
"It can turn very quickly. But the last three games have been frustrating for us, especially the last two," Showalter said.
After absorbing a 15-2 defeat in the series opener, Baltimore had to digest two straight one-run losses.
"We haven't been playing baseball. They've been beating us, outhitting us in key situations," Orioles thi rd baseman Manny Machado said.
Casey Fien (4-5) pitched 1 1-3 innings of relief to earn his second win in two nights. He entered in the sixth and struck out Machado with the bases loaded and two outs.
Kevin Jepsen got three straight outs for his eighth save.
Twins: Closer Glen Perkins, who's been sidelined since Aug. 17 with a neck injury, threw on the side Saturday and will have a bullpen session Sunday. He hopes to return Tuesday. ... RHP Phil Hughes (lower back inflammation) is still experiencing pain. Molitor said it's "not turning around as fast as we had hoped."
Orioles: Steve Pearce (left oblique) was slated to begin his rehabilitation assignment by playing 1B and batting third for Double-A Bowie.
Twins: Mike Pelfrey (6-7, 3.62 ERA) makes his 24th start in the series finale. The Twins are 12-11 in his starts, and he's 2-0 lifetime against Baltimore.
Orioles: Kevin Gausman (2-5, 4.48 ERA) seeks to snap a ru n of three straight losing starts. He's 0-2 with a 9.00 ERA in his career versus the Twins.