Zach Britton 's much-anticipated season debut didn't go well earlier this week.
While Josh Tomlin wasn't sharp either, getting back home could help him regroup.
Still feeling the effects of a shoulder injury that sidelined him for two weeks last August, Britton (0-0, 9.00 ERA), who led the Orioles with 11 wins in his 2011 rookie campaign, was placed on the disabled list in late March.
After building up his arm strength in the minors, Britton was called up Tuesday to start against Minnesota. The 24-year-old left-hander, though, allowed four runs in four innings and issued a career-high six walks in a 6-4 road loss.
"Six walks is absolutely unacceptable," Britton said. "There's no way that should happen. It was really frustrating. I expect to go deep in games."
Despite the poor outing, Britton's job appears safe at the moment.
"He's capable of doing this," manager Buck Showalter told MLB's official website. "It's one start. He did a lot to get to this point, and I'm proud of him to earn the right. But now he's got to earn the right to stay here."
Tomlin (5-6, 5.51) was also knocked around Tuesday, yielding four runs - three in the first inning - and seven hits over 5 2-3 innings of a 4-2 defeat at Tampa Bay.
"It was tough putting guys in a hole like that," he said. "I've got to do a better job of limiting the damage, especially the first inning."
While Tomlin has compiled a 10.13 ERA over his last four road starts, he's gone 1-0 with a 1.32 ERA in his last two at home. In his most recent outing at Progressive Field, the right-hander allowed two hits over seven innings of one-run ball in a 3-1 victory over the Rays on July 5.
The Orioles (50-44) have won four straight behind strong pitching efforts, recording four consecutive quality starts for the first time since May 15-18. Chris Tillman was the latest to shine, allowing one run in 6 2-3 innings during Saturday's 3-1 victory.
After hitting his 610th homer to move into seventh place on the all-time list during Friday's 10-2 win, Jim Thome came up huge again Saturday with No. 611 - a go-ahead, two-run shot in the seventh inning.
Acquired from Philadelphia on July 1, Thome, who spent his first 12 seasons and the final two months of last year in an Indians uniform, enjoys coming back to Cleveland.
"There's a lot memories," he said. "I've had great memories on that side and then coming in here as an opponent against them. Any time you come home, they say, it's very special. It's even more special to get the W's. That's, I think, the main thing."
Cleveland (47-47), meanwhile, has managed just three runs in dropping three in a row. The Indians are batting .191 during their skid - including a 1-for-14 effort with runners in scoring position. They went 0 for 5 in such situations Saturday.
Tomlin has won each of his last three starts in this series despite allowing five runs in each of his last two - including an 11-5 victory at Baltimore on June 30.
In his lone appearance against the Indians, Britton was tagged for five runs over six innings during an 8-2 loss at Cleveland on April 15, 2011.
|July 16, 2012||Robert Andino||15-Day DL||Left shoulder subluxation|
|July 16, 2012||Robert Andino||Day-to-Day||Left shoulder strain|
|July 14, 2012||Jason Hammel||15-Day DL||Arthroscopic surgery, right knee|
|July 02, 2012||Brian Roberts||15-Day DL||Torn muscle, right hip|
|June 28, 2012||Nick Johnson||60-Day DL||Sprained right wrist|
|June 27, 2012||Nick Johnson||Day-to-Day||Left game - sore right wrist|
|June 30, 2012||Lonnie Chisenhall||15-Day DL||Fractured right ulna - out 4-6 weeks|
|June 29, 2012||Lonnie Chisenhall||Day-to-Day||Fractured right ulna - out 4-6 weeks|
|June 05, 2012||Jose Lopez||Day-to-Day||Sore lower back|
|May 27, 2012||Jack Hannahan||15-Day DL||Strained left calf|
|May 27, 2012||Jack Hannahan||15-Day DL||Strained left calf|
|May 26, 2012||Carlos Santana||7-Day DL||Concussion|
CLEVELAND (AP) -- Jim Johnson somehow saved the Baltimore Orioles from what could have been a discouraging loss.
The All-Star closer yielded one run in Cleveland's three-run ninth inning before striking out Asdrubal Cabrera with two Indians on base to close out a 4-3 win Sunday.
"That wasn't the way we drew it up," Johnson said after preserving Baltimore's fifth straight victory. "I really was just trying to find a way to get out of it."
It was Johnson's 30th save - most in the majors - in 32 chances.
The Orioles will go for a season-high sixth straight win and try to complete their first four-game sweep in Cleveland in 41 years on Monday. The last time they did it, in September 1971, Mike Cuellar , Pat Dobson and Jim Palmer all earned their 20th wins in the series. Dave McNally already had 20 wins, making Baltimore the last team with four 20-game winners in one season.
Cleveland has lost four in a row and seven of nine, falling 4 1/2 games behind AL Central leader Detroit.
The Indians have been shut out twice in 10 games since the All-Star break and are one game under .500 for the first time since they were 3-4 on April 14.
"We continue to struggle offensively, but the sun is going to come up tomorrow," manager Manny Acta said. "We still have over 60 games to go. Things can change in a heartbeat. Every day is a new day."
Zach Britton (1-0) pitched six shutout innings, J.J. Hardy drove in three runs and the Orioles held a 4-0 lead entering the ninth.
Luis Ayala worked 2 1-3 perfect innings of relief before yielding a single to Michael Brantley and a two-run homer to Carlos Santana that got Cleveland back in the game.
"Luis pitched really well, he just ran out of gas," Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. "We had our work cut out for us that inning against some good hitters."
Johnson came on and gave up a double to Shelley Duncan and a pinch-hit RBI single to Travis Hafner to make it 4-3. With two outs, he walked Shin-Soo Choo before fanning Cabrera.
"I didn't have a matchup I liked," Johnson said. "I pitched around Choo and knew I still had a base open if I needed. I just had to get that one out."
Showalter liked how Johnson stepped up with the game on the line - and the way Britton worked out of a bases-loaded jam in the sixth by striking out Santana.
"All our guys made big pitches," Showalter said. "You can doubt yourself, but when it hurts the most is when you go back to the hotel or apartment and say, `I wish I hadn't been so timid there.' Go after them. They did."
Nick Markakis opened the game with a single and scored on Hardy's 14th homer off Josh Tomlin (5-7).
Hardy added an RBI single against reliever Esmil Rogers in the seventh.
Wilson Betemit 's 11th homer, off former Orioles reliever Jeremy Accardo , made it 4-0 in the eighth.
Britton went 11-11 as a rookie a year ago, but opened this season on the disabled list with a sore shoulder. In 10 starts in the minors, he was 5-1. He walked a career-high six on Tuesday in a no-decision against Minnesota in his return to the Orioles.
He made 26 pitches in the sixth, walking Choo, giving up a one-out bunt single to Jason Kipnis and walking Brantley with two outs before throwing a called third strike past Santana, who had singled and doubled his first two times up.
"I nibbled too much there," Britton said. "The rest of the time, I just aimed the sinker at the middle of the plate and let it break to the corners."
Tomlin settled in after a rocky first inning in which he made 28 pitches and gave up four hits. He allowed four hits over the next five scoreless innings and didn't walk a batter. He has issued only one base on balls over his last 21 2-3 innings.
NOTES: RHP Roberto Hernandez , the former Fausto Carmona, apologized to the Indians and their fans for playing under an assumed name and falsifying his age since signing with Cleveland in 2000. He is expected to start a rehab assignment in the minors next week as he serves a three-week suspension by Major League Baseball. ... Showalter said he will give Hardy a rest Monday and start INF Omar Quintanilla , who came in as a defensive replacement Saturday. Quintanilla was acquired from the New York Mets for cash on Friday. ... Orioles 2B Ryan Flaherty , who homered Friday and Saturday, made his third straight start. ... Cleveland fell to 10-18 against the AL East; Baltimore is 16-10 vs. the AL Central. ... Markakis is hitting .364 (16 of 44) in his last 10 games.