ANAHEIM, Calif. — Getting Joe Blanton a win has become one of the Los Angeles Angels’ growing concerns. Getting timely hitting on a consistent basis has been another.
The Angels did virtually nothing against 25-year-old Southern Californian Chris Tillman, who scattered three hits over eight scoreless innings on Thursday night in the Baltimore Orioles’ 5-1 victory. The only run came on Albert Pujols’ ninth-inning home run against closer Jim Johnson.
“Tillman pitched a strong game. We didn’t get too many chances against him,” manager Mike Scioscia said. “He has good stuff. I think he’s a young pitcher coming into his own, starting to understand his stuff, but he pitched to both sides of the plate.”
The Orioles’ right-hander got in trouble in the first inning after walking two batters, including Mark Trumbo on eight pitches with two out. Josh Hamilton singled to right field on the next pitch, but Nick Markakis charged the ball and made a perfect one-hop throw to the plate, where Matt Wieters put the tag on Mike Trout as he came in standing up. It was the second outfield assist by the Orioles this season and the first involving a play at home.
“The fact that we didn’t score in the first inning might have taken a little wind out of our sails,” Trumbo said. “We’ve got to get better at doing things like that. Obviously we’re not on any kind of a roll, so the small things become that much more important.”
Blanton (0-5) allowed three runs — two earned — and eight hits over eight innings, and is winless in his first six starts of a season for the second time in his 10-year career. The right-hander was 0-5 through his first 10 starts in 2005 with Oakland.
“Sometimes that happens. It went a couple of games longer than I hoped it would,” Blanton said.
Manny Machado’s RBI single in the third inning extended his hitting streak to 11 games. Blanton didn’t allow another hit until the sixth, when Adam Jones singled to right one pitch after fouling a ball hard off his left shin and taking some time to shake off the pain.
Chris Davis followed with a double into the right field corner, and Jones legged it all the way around — just beating second baseman Howie Kendrick’s relay from Hamilton.
“Adam Jones is a tough hombre,” Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. “Try taking a ball off the shin, then poking a ball into right field and scoring from first on a double. That’s a challenge. But I think that’s what a lot of people miss most about Adam. He’s a tough guy.”
The Orioles made it 3-0 in the seventh with Markakis’ two-out RBI double after a two-base throwing error by Brendan Harris, who charged Nolan Reimold’s grounder and barehanded the ball before air-mailing it into the first row behind the Orioles’ dugout.
Nate McLouth hit a two-run homer in the ninth, a drive to center field that bounced off the glove of Trout as he jumped for it at the top of the fence.
Tillman (2-1) struck out three, walked two and retired 20 of his last 21 batters en route to his second win in two career starts against the Angels, including his first major league victory on Aug. 14, 2009 at Baltimore. The 25-year-old right-hander is 9-1 with a 2.11 ERA in 11 career starts against AL West teams.
“It’s special to pitch in front of your family and friends, especially a good one like this,” Tillman said. “The big thing was throwing strikes early and (to) work off my fastball command. I was a little off in the first and second inning, but Matt (Wieters) did a good job of making me throw all of my pitches, and I think that’s what got me back on track.”
Showalter praised Tillman on his ability to get ahead in the count consistently.
“I think he had something like 23 out of 29 first-pitch strikes, and that was the difference,” Showalter said. “He had a great three-pitch mix. He had command of his curve ball, and he had a little extra on his fastball, too. You could tell early on he had a crisp fastball. Pitching that eighth inning was huge.”
NOTES: Only 15 managers in major league history have piloted the same team for more consecutive seasons than Scioscia, who took the Angels job in 2000. Three of them were contemporaries — Bobby Cox (Atlanta), Tony La Russa (St. Louis) and Tom Kelly (Minnesota). ... Jones was hopping around home plate again in the seventh after fouling a ball off the inside of his left foot. ... Tillman and Blanton has identical pitch counts — 114 overall and 73 for strikes. ... Longtime Angels nemesis Freddy Garcia has been penciled in to start against them on Saturday. The 36-year-old righty is 16-3 with a 2.66 ERA in 28 career starts against the Halos, and 8-1 with a 3.18 ERA in 16 starts in Anaheim. He signed a minor league contract on March 27, three days after he was released by San Diego. ... Davis was chosen Thursday as AL player of the month, the first Oriole to win the award since Melvin Mora in August 2008. ... Thursday was the one-year anniversary of Jered Weaver’s no-hitter.