By JEFF MEZYDLO
STATS Senior Writer
(AP) — Chris Tillman has thrown the ball well since he was roughed up by the Texas Rangers last month.
Looking to win his third straight start, Tillman will try to help the Baltimore Orioles send the Rangers on their first eight-game road slide in nine years Wednesday night.
Since allowing nine of the 11 batters he faced to reach and five runs in one-plus innings against Texas on June 5, Tillman (7-4, 4.18 ERA) has posted a 1.61 ERA while splitting four starts. The only run he’s yielded over 15 innings in winning his last two came when he went eight Friday in a 4-1 home victory over Tampa Bay.
The right-hander received four runs of support, double the amount Baltimore gave him while he went 0-4 with a 2.78 ERA in his first six outings at Camden Yards.
“I was able to throw the fastball for strikes,” Tillman said. “Any time you are able to throw to both sides of the plate and mix in your offspeed, it’s kind of a recipe for success.”
Manager Buck Showalter has been pleased with Tillman’s overall approach since his disaster against the Rangers.
“He’s carrying more pitches. It’s not always velocity,” Showalter said. “It’s crispness, finishing in the zone, a little more of that. He’s come so far.”
Nelson Cruz hit a solo shot against his former team and Steve Pearce homered for the third time in two games as Baltimore (44-39) won its fourth straight at home over Texas, 8-3 on Tuesday.
Losers in 11 of 13 overall and nine of 10 against the Orioles, the Rangers (37-46) have been outscored 44-19 in the last seven road contests. Texas, which has totaled six runs in its last four at Baltimore, hasn’t lost eight in a row away from home since a nine-game slide in 2005.
Cruz, who hit 27 home runs for Texas during a 2013 season cut short by a 50-game suspension for his role in the Biogenesis scandal, has 26 this year but is 3 for 24 in his last six contests.
“I’m happy with the situation that we are as a team,” he said. “The numbers, at the end of the season we’re going to look at it. But right now we focus on winning games, and that’s what we’re doing.”
Pearce, meanwhile, has already set career highs with 10 homers and 27 RBIs in 46 games. He’s batting .365 with six home runs and 15 RBIs in his last 20.
The Orioles will get their first look at Miles Mikolas, who was called up from Triple-A Round Rock to make his Rangers debut and first career start. The right-hander went 2-1 with a 3.44 ERA in 27 games for San Diego in 2012-2013, and was 3-1 with a 3.58 ERA in six starts in the minors this season.
“This is not a spot start,” assistant general manager Thad Levine told MLB’s official website. “We’ve had very good reports on Mikolas as a starter and we wanted to see if he can have the same level of success at the major league level.”
Rangers third baseman Adrian Beltre is batting .474 (18 for 38) in his last 11 contests. He is 4 for 9 with a home run against Tillman.
Updated July 2, 2014