Will Chen go seven? (O’s win 3-0)

Orioles manager Buck Showalter is rooting for one of his starters to go seven innings just so he doesn’t have to address the topic during every postgame media session.

It’s a hot topic among reporters. Probably a few fans, too.

Wei-Yin Chen has come pretty close, going 5 2/3, 6 1/3, six and six innings this season. He’s turned in three straight quality starts. He’s allowed three runs or fewer in all four.

At the risk of slowing his roll, I’ll point out that Chen allowed one baserunner his first time through Oakland’s lineup tonight, walking Chris Young in the second. Coco Crisp reached on an infield hit with two outs in the third on a ball that deflected off third baseman Manny Machado.

Chen has thrown 33 pitches in three innings. So far, so good.

As I noted earlier today, the A’s brought out the best in Chen last season. He allowed one earned run (two total) and struck out 16 in 12 2/3 innings.

Machado doubled in his first at-bat tonight, extending his hitting streak to five games. He’s 12-for-36 in his last nine games, and he has an extra-base hit in three of the last four.

Steve Pearce reached on an error in the second inning, leaving his average at .130. He’s 3-for-23 with a home run.

Down on the farm, Danny Valencia went 3-for-5 with his second home run and four RBIs for Triple-A Norfolk, raising his average to .329. He’s been batting cleanup for the Tides.

Update: Chen is at 59 pitches over five scoreless innings, with two hits allowed, one walk and five strikeouts. He stranded a runner at second base in the fifth.

The Orioles are providing the usual run support for Chen. The game is scoreless.

The Orioles are 0-for-6 with runners in scoring position and have stranded five.

Pearce doubled off the center field fence leading off the fifth.

Update II: Chen retired the side in order in the sixth. He’s thrown 72 pitches, 47 for strikes.

Plate umpire Jim Reynolds did Chen a favor in the sixth. Chen fell behind Coco Crisp 2-0 and missed high with his next offering, but Reynolds called it a strike. Crisp grounded out on a 2-2 pitch.

Update III: J.J. Hardy singled leading off the seventh and took second base on J.J. Reddick’s error. Nolan Reimold popped up, but Pearce delivered an RBI single to break the scoreless tie.

The Orioles were 0-for-7 with runners in scoring position before Pearce’s single.

Update IV: Chen returned for the eighth after stranding two runners in the seventh, and he retired the A’s in order to leave his pitch count at 106.

The eight innings are a career high for Chen. He allowed only two hits, walked two and struck out five. In short, he was magnificent.

Jim Johnson will pitch the ninth.

Chen has been extremely critical of himself after his last few starts. He’s got to approve of this one.

Update V: The Orioles scored twice in the ninth on an error and Nick Markakis’ sacrifice fly, and Johnson recorded his ninth save in a 3-0 victory.

The inning included a 12-pitch walk to Pearce, who was a key contributor tonight.

The Orioles (14-9) registered their first shutout of 2013. They’ve won 102 consecutive games when leading after seven innings.

The Orioles are five games over .500 for the first time this season.

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