ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. - Strong starting pitching, timely hitting and solid defense.
Two games into the season, the Baltimore Orioles are clicking on all cylinders.
Chris Tillman held Tampa Bay hitless for six innings, Brian Roberts hit a three-run homer and Nick Markakis made a leaping catch at the wall in the ninth to preserve a 3-1 victory over the defending American League East champion Rays on Saturday night.
“As we all know, you win with pitching and defense, and that’s what we’ve gotten the first two days,” said Roberts, whose eighth-inning homer snapped a scoreless tie.
Tillman, making the 24th starter of his career, lost his bid for a no-hitter when manager Buck Showalter lifted him after 101 pitches. B.J. Upton lined a two-out single off Jeremy Accardo (1-0) for Tampa Bay’s first hit with two outs in the seventh.
The 22-year-old right-hander, who was drafted by the Seattle Mariners in 2006, then traded to Baltimore as part of a package for Erik Bedard in 2008, wasn’t surprised he was removed from the game.
“No, I was real inefficient the first couple innings,” Tillman said. “Maybe a month down the road from now, I might still be in the game.”
Roberts’ eighth-inning homer off Jake McGee came after Mark Reynolds singled and J.J. Hardy drew a one-out walk from Rays starter James Shields (0-1).
With two on base, Ben Zobrist hit a drive to right and Markakis, taking a running leap into the padded wall, made the game-ending catch.
“I’ve said over and over again, it’s a crime he hasn’t won a Gold Glove by this point,” Roberts said of Markakis. “To me, he’s the best right fielder in the game. If you didn’t believe before now, I hope you do now.”