SEATTLE — Chris Tillman gave up just two hits in 8 1-3 innings in first start of 2012, Adam Jones hit his 20th home run of the season into the upper deck in left field, and the Baltimore Orioles beat the Seattle Mariners 4-2 on Wednesday.
Jones’ homer leading off the second inning came on a 2-0 pitch from Seattle starter Hector Noesi (2-11) and landed well back in the upper level seats. That was all Tillman needed, as the one-time Seattle prospect shut down his former organization after getting called up from the minors.
Tillman (1-0) took a one-hitter into the ninth but Michael Saunders reached on an error and John Jaso’s one-out double on Tillman’s 125th pitch ended his day. Jim Johnson entered and gave up an RBI groundout to Kyle Seager and RBI single to Justin Smoak, but still finished off his major league-leading 25th save.
Before Jaso’s double the only hit Tillman allowed came in the fourth when Saunders singled up the middle just out of J.J. Hardy’s reach. Tillman struck out seven and walked two. He had never gone more than 7 1-3 innings in a major league start, but after retiring the first 10 batters Tillman set down 15 of the final 20 batters he faced. Both of the runs Seattle scored in the ninth were unearned.
Tillman was once a top prospect in the Mariners’ farm system before being shipped along with Jones and three others to Baltimore in 2008 in exchange for Erik Bedard, a trade that backfired on the Mariners. Jones has developed into an All-Star, while Bedard spent four injury-plagued seasons in Seattle’s organization.
Tillman was just 8-8 with a 3.63 ERA at Triple-A Norfolk and just 3-5 with a 5.52 ERA in 13 starts with Baltimore in 2011. But he looked like he belonged in the Orioles’ rotation against the Mariners. Tillman was perfect until Saunders’ one-out single in the fourth inning. He was helped by Chris Davis’ diving catch on Munenori Kawasaki’s blooper in the third and kept his infield busy with 11 outs recorded by the infield.
Davis and Robert Andino added RBI singles for the Orioles, who won two straight for the first time since June 16-17. Since taking two of three from Atlanta in mid-June, the Orioles are just 5-10.
Noesi barely lasted five innings and became the first 11-game loser in baseball and his time in the rotation may be running out. It was the fourth straight start with Noesi giving up at least seven hits and he has not left a game with the lead since May 17 against Cleveland. He has not won since May 6.
According to STATS LLC, Jones’ homer that came on a 2-0 count in the second was the first time this season Noesi has given up a hit on a 2-0 pitch, but his 20th home run allowed.
Seattle’s offense did nothing to help Noesi. A night after Wei-Yin Chen took a perfect game into the seventh inning, Tillman allowed just six baserunners total — two reaching on errors in the eighth and ninth innings..