BALTIMORE --- Chris Tillman pitched perhaps his best game of the season, and had nothing to show for it.
For six innings, Tillman allowed no runs and just three hits. He gave up two runs in the seventh, and once he was gone things went farther south.
The Orioles 4-1 loss to the Houston Astros before 21,541 on Tuesday night at Oriole Park continued a pattern. Impressive wins followed by disheartening defeats
In 15 of the Orioles’ 23 losses, they’ve scored two runs or fewer.
“Until we get some things going offensively, it really makes for a tough atmosphere to pitch in,” manager Buck Showalter said.
While Jimmy Paredes continues to hit, few others have. J.J. Hardy is hitting just .180, and hasn’t produced after missing the first 25 games with a shoulder injury.
Steve Pearce, Monday’s hero, is still under .200, and Chris Davis, who was booed after his ninth-inning strikeout is in a frightening .4-for-42 slide that’s left him with a .208 average and no home runs in his last 12 games.
“I think we’re pressing a little bit. Myself, trying to go out there and do too much. I’ve got to swing at balls in the strike zone,” Davis said.
“That’s one thing. It doesn’t matter if your swing feels good or if it feels bad if you’re not swinging at balls in the zone, you’re not giving yourself a chance. That’s probably the most frustrating thing for me.
After Monday’s exciting 4-3 win, the Orioles hoped for better from Tillman, and got it, but their offense did next to nothing.
Tillman allowed a leadoff single to George Springer and he was immediately erased when Jose Altuve hit into a double play.
He allowed runners in the first four innings, and in the fourth was in trouble when he issued his third walk to leadoff batter Preston Tucker. With two outs, Luis Valbuena hit a drive to left field. David Lough’s threw to Hardy who fired home and Tucker was out.
Tillman (2-6) retired the next six batters.
Scott Feldman had baserunners in the first three innings, but each time got a double play.
Paredes, who had three hits, doubled to start the sixth, moved to third on an infield out and scored on Davis’ liner to right.
Evan Gattis led off the seventh with a double and scored from third on Chris Carter’s two-out single to left. Carter scored on Jason Castro’s double to right.
In seven innings, Tillman allowed two runs on five hits, walking three and striking out five. He’s lost a career-high five straight.
“I wasn’t very good at getting the first hitter of the inning, but it put some stress on you to get pitches and to get a double play or some quick outs. I’d like to be better with that first hitter,” Tillman said.
Tommy Hunter allowed a leadoff double to Springer in the eight and a single by Altuve. Altuve stole second, and with runners on second and third with none out, Hunter made a fine play to field Tucker’s hopper.
He saw Springer trying to score, ran him back to the bag and Manny Machado tagged him for the first out. Gattis grounded to shortstop, and Hardy threw home to Caleb Joseph and Altuve was out.
Brian Matusz walked Colby Rasmus, who struck out three times against Tillman, and Valbuena’s two-run single gave Houston (30-17) a 4-1 lead.
“Brian just hasn’t been as consistent as he’s capable of, that’s for sure. We’ve seen him get some big out for us. We liked our chances there. The walk to Rasmus, and we hung a breaking ball to Valbuena. Also, we did some things to create that situation that we were almost out of by some good defensive plays. Tommy made one, but we also made some mistakes that put people out there to create those situations,” Showalter said.
Feldman (4-4) allowed one run on four hits in six innings.
Pat Neshek, Chad Qualls and Luke Gregerson combined to shut out the Orioles in the last three innings. Gregerson got his 13th save.
Davis presses on.
“Right now, I’m going out there and doing all the work early and hitting in the cage and doing everything I can, and once the game starts trying to slow it down and really relax and kind of let the game come to you, just trying to do too much right now. At some point, it has to change,” Davis said.
NOTES: The Orioles hit into three double plays for the second straight game. … Collin McHugh (5-2, 4.06) faces Ubaldo Jimenez (3-3, 2.82) on Wednesday at 4:35 p.m. … Mike Wright pitches one game of Thursday’s doubleheader against Chicago. T.J. McFarland or Tyler Wilson will be recalled from Triple-A Norfolk to start the other.