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Tigers' scoring drought reaches 22 innings

Fiers solid through six innings, but offense only able to muster two hits
MLB.com @beckjason

BALTIMORE -- While many Tigers players were getting settled into Spring Training in Lakeland, Fla., Chris Tillman was throwing for team officials on the back fields of Tigertown. That was in mid-February, when Tillman was still a free agent and Detroit was looking for one more veteran starter to supplement its rotation.

Tillman re-signed with the Orioles shortly after that. Two months later, he took the mound at Camden Yards and threw up goose eggs against a Tigers lineup that has now gone scoreless over 22 consecutive innings for the second time this season.

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BALTIMORE -- While many Tigers players were getting settled into Spring Training in Lakeland, Fla., Chris Tillman was throwing for team officials on the back fields of Tigertown. That was in mid-February, when Tillman was still a free agent and Detroit was looking for one more veteran starter to supplement its rotation.

Tillman re-signed with the Orioles shortly after that. Two months later, he took the mound at Camden Yards and threw up goose eggs against a Tigers lineup that has now gone scoreless over 22 consecutive innings for the second time this season.

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After the chill that fell on the Tigers' bats in Pittsburgh seemingly followed them east on their road trip, they gave most of the credit to Tillman, who tossed seven scoreless innings on one hit for his first win since May 7, 2017.

"Tillman was fantastic tonight," manager Ron Gardenhire said. "He cut the ball. He changed speeds with it. For a guy that came into the series struggling, he pitched his butt off tonight. Tip your hat to him, because I've seen him do that a lot at this level.

"He's got good stuff and ate us up. We're a pretty good-hitting baseball team."

The Tigers are certainly a hard-hitting baseball team, judging from the number of balls put in play with a high exit velocity this season. They can also be a streaky-hitting team, notably against good pitching. Detroit endured a 23-inning scoreless streak earlier this month against the White Sox and Indians, and has recorded three 1-0 losses this season, including Thursday afternoon in Pittsburgh against Ivan Nova.

Tillman slowed down Tigers bats with a mix of changeups, sliders and fastballs, none of which topped 90 mph according to Statcast™. He held Detroit hitless until Jose Iglesias doubled with one out in the sixth. Detroit went hitless from there until Nicholas Castellanos ran out an infield single against the shift with two outs in the ninth. It was not enough to avoid the Tigers' fifth shutout of the season and fourth two-hit game.

Video: DET@BAL: Iglesias lines a double to center in the 5th

Tillman induced 10 swings-and-misses from a Tigers lineup trying to break out of its current funk that began amidst three games over 24 hours in Pittsburgh. James McCann went 0-for-3 to end an eight-game hitting streak, and Miguel Cabrera saw a 9-for-18 stretch end with a hitless performance. Tillman's performance also affected Victor Martinez and JaCoby Jones, both now enduring 0-for-10 slumps.

"He got us out of balance today," said Leonys Martin, who went 5-for-14 with two home runs over three games in Pittsburgh, but was held hitless in four at-bats Friday. "He did a pretty good job. Tip your hat."

It was the kind of outing some Tigers officials felt like he might be capable of delivering, considering their offseason interest.

Pedro Alvarez supported Tillman with a two-homer night, powering a solo shot off Detroit starter Mike Fiers (2-2) in the fifth inning before adding a two-run drive off Johnny Barbato to put the game away in the seventh. Manny Machado also homered off Fiers with a drive to straightaway center field to open the scoring in the first.

Fiers gave up three runs on four hits over six innings, striking out five.

"I thought I kept us somewhat in the game," said Fiers, who had been 2-0 with 14 innings of two-run ball in two career starts at Camden Yards. "Obviously Tillman pitched a heck of a game, so you have to kind of give credit to him. Obviously we didn't score, so you're not going to win like that. Go get 'em tomorrow."

MOMENT THAT MATTERED
While three homers provided the bulk of the Orioles offense, Jace Peterson's RBI double in Fiers' sixth and final inning was a microcosm of the Tigers' night. The bouncer up the middle hit the bag at second base and caromed into right field as Iglesias moved behind it, sending Caleb Joseph around third.

Video: DET@BAL: Peterson doubles off bag to plate Joseph

"He was right there," Martin said of Iglesias. "He would've been able to make that play [if not for the bounce]. It happens."

SOUND SMART
While Cabrera went 0-for-3 with a walk, his .455 career on-base percentage against the Orioles leads all active Major Leaguers. He's batting .363 (90-for-248) lifetime against the O's, with 63 RBIs in 66 games.

UP NEXT
Francisco Liriano (2-1, 3.13) takes the ball as the series in Baltimore continues Saturday with a 7:05 p.m. ET game at Camden Yards. Liriano took a no-hit bid into the sixth inning of his last start last weekend against the Royals. He will be opposed by Andrew Cashner, who takes the mound for the Orioles.

Jason Beck has covered the Tigers for MLB.com since 2002. Read Beck's Blog, follow him on Twitter @beckjason and Facebook.

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