BALTIMORE (AP) — The Baltimore Orioles have been playing baseball since 1954, and never before had they won a game when the lone run came on a leadoff homer.
Chris Tillman pitched seven innings of three-hit ball in a duel with Hisashi Iwakuma, Nick Markakis homered and Baltimore beat the Seattle Mariners 1-0 for their fourth straight series win.
Early on, it was apparent that runs were going to be tough to come by. Orioles manager Buck Showalter assumed as much, as evidenced by his conversation with head trainer Richie Bancells.
“I was telling Richie about the fourth inning, I said, `You know, I’ve never had a leadoff home run and won the game. But today’s going to be the first, hopefully,”‘ Showalter said. “Not that I didn’t have any confidence in us scoring another run.”
It never happened. Tillman and Iwakuma were that good.
“The first home run, the first hitter in the first inning, cost me the whole game,” Iwakuma said through an interpreter. “When (you) look at it at the end, it’s tough like that.”
The Mariners had never lost 1-0 when the only run came on a leadoff homer. It was only the ninth time in franchise history they dropped a 1-0 game in which the only run was a home run.
Tillman (8-5) struck out six and walked none to earn his first win since June 27. A second-round draft pick by Seattle in 2006, Tillman is 6-0 in six career starts against the Mariners.
Newcomer Andrew Miller worked a perfect eighth and Zach Britton got three outs for his 23rd save.
Iwakuma (9-6) allowed one run, five hits and two walks in 7 2-3 innings. He struck out seven.
“One pitch in his first seven pitches,” Seattle catcher Mike Zunino lamented. “Other than that, I thought he was excellent.”
Iwakuma lost on the road for the first time in 15 starts since July 4, 2013. He was 9-0 over that span.
The right-hander’s most glaring error came against Markakis, who hit a shot to right on a 3-2 pitch. Markakis had three hits and now has 1,501 for his career. He came within a triple of hitting for the cycle.
“I hope everybody understands what we’re watching here,” Showalter said. “We talk about some of those guys through the years that were solid Orioles, you’ve got to mention his name, hopefully for many years.
The victory was the ninth in 13 games for the AL East-leading Orioles, who won the season series from Seattle 5-2.
Seattle put runners on the corners with one out in the second before Tillman struck out Zunino and Brad Miller. That began a run of 14 straight outs by Tillman, a streak that ended when Kendrys Morales singled leading off the seventh.
Kyle Seager then hit into a 4-6-3 double play.
Mariners: RF Michael Saunders (left oblique strain) had a light day with no hitting Sunday to get some rest. He will begin throwing in the outfield this week.
Orioles: Ubaldo Jimenez (sprained right ankle) was scheduled to pitch for Triple-A Norfolk on Sunday night, his final rehabilitative assignment. He will join the team in Washington on Monday and travel with the squad to Toronto.
Mariners: After getting Monday off, Seattle sends Felix Hernandez (11-3) to the mound Tuesday at home against Atlanta.
Orioles: Baltimore takes a short trip south Monday for a makeup game against the Nationals. Rookie Kevin Gausman faces Washington’s Tanner Roark.
The Orioles have scored only six runs in their last four games, but are 2-2 in that span.
Nelson Cruz, who was 1 for 28 since hitting his 28th homer on July 25, was kept out of the lineup Sunday. Although the bats have been quiet, Showalter remains hopeful.
“As many times as we come here after a game knowing the offense picked up the pitching, it’s kind of evened out,” he said. “If we can get both going — as every team tries to do — it would be a little more fun. I had fun today watching good pitchers pitch. If I’d have known how it was going to end I could enjoy it a lot more, I’ll tell you that.”
(Copyright 2013 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)