It's Tillman time (O's win 4-2)

In his next-to-last start with the Orioles on Aug. 6, 2011, Chris Tillman limited the Blue Jays to two runs and four hits in seven innings.

Five days later against the White Sox, he surrendered six runs and eight hits, and walked three batters, in only 2 2/3 innings.

Tillman didn't pitch for the Orioles again - beyond spring training - until making today's start against the Mariners at Safeco Field.

I try not to place too much emphasis on one appearance or a game in early July, but this is a fairly big one for Tillman, who is trying to establish himself in the majors and jump off the shuttle to Triple-A Norfolk.

He's only 24, but he's the first to say that age no longer is an excuse. He's got to string together quality starts, keep his pitch count down, keep his fastball moving. Keep throwing it straight and you'll go straight back to the International League.

In his pregame session with reporters that aired on MASN, Showalter confirmed that Jason Hammel will start Saturday and Wei-Yin Chen on Sunday against the Angels. Zach Britton apparently is not a candidate to start on Friday. Showalter indicated that he'll choose someone from his bullpen, meaning Dana Eveland or Miguel Gonzalez.

The All-Star break arrives on Monday, so Showalter won't need another starter until July 13. He can get creative with his rotation.

Tillman wants to give him one more starter to consider in the second half.

The Orioles won 16 series last year. They can equal that total with a victory today.

Update: Adam Jones hit 25 home runs last season. He's already got 20 this year, including today's shot into the second deck at Safeco Field that gave the Orioles a 1-0 lead in the second inning.

Jones didn't get his 20th homer last summer until Aug. 6.

Jones and Tillman came to the Orioles in the Erik Bedard trade with Seattle. Not that the Mariners need to be reminded.

Update II: The Orioles have handed Tillman a 3-0 lead.

They scored twice in the top of the third on singles by Mark Reynolds and Robert Andino, a sacrifice bunt by Xavier Avery, an RBI grounder by J.J. Hardy and an RBI single by Chris Davis, who made a diving catch in right field to end the bottom of the third.

Tillman retired the first 10 batters before Michael Saunders grounded a single up the middle in the fourth.

The Orioles are 19-1 when their starter works at least seven innings.

Catcher Taylor Teagarden will move his injury-rehab assignment to Double-A Bowie tomorrow.

Update III: Tillman came back out for the eighth inning with his pitch count at 97 and retired the first two Mariners before Wilson Betemit committed his 13th error this season, and 11th at third base. Tillman struck out Ichiro Suzuki to end the mini-threat and maintain a 4-0 lead.

Tillman has completed eight innings, a career high, and Saunders' single is the only hit off him. He's walked two and struck out six. He's thrown 108 pitches, 68 for strikes.

I'd love to see what Tillman could do five days from now, since consistency has eluded him at the major league level. Too bad the All-Star break arrives at his next scheduled turn.

Update IV: Tillman came out of the game with runners on second and third and one out in the ninth. Saunders reached on Andino's error and John Jaso doubled for the second hit off Tillman, who walked two and struck out seven.

The Mariners scored two unearned runs on Kyle Seager's grounder off Jim Johnson and Justin Smoak's two-out single.

Tillman threw 125 pitches, 79 for strikes. His fastball topped out at 97 mph in the ninth, and it wasn't straight enough to hang wet laundry on it. Very impressive.

The Orioles win their 16th series, equaling last year's total. Also impressive.

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