Tillman and the Orioles will look to continue their dominance of the last-place club when the teams begin a three-game series Monday night at Safeco Field.
Baltimore holds a 2 1/2-game lead over the Los Angeles Angels for the AL's second wild-card spot and trails the New York Yankees by one game for the East lead. It dropped two of three at Oakland over the weekend, but ended the series on a positive note with a 9-5 victory Sunday.
Matt Wieters hit two solo homers and scored three runs for the Orioles (82-64), who clinched their first winning record since finishing 98-64 to win the East in 1997."Every game right now is a must win," Wieters said. "This is a tough place to win. To be able to get one, we'll take it, move on to Seattle and try to win a couple up there."
Baltimore has won five straight meetings with Seattle after dropping the first matchup of the season, with Tillman (7-2, 3.39 ERA) picking up two victories against the team that drafted him in 2006.
Tillman's breakout 2012 season began when he allowed two runs and two hits while striking out seven in a career-high 8 1-3 innings of a 4-2 win over Seattle on July 4. He shut down the Mariners again Aug. 6, giving up one run in 7 1-3 innings of a 3-1 victory.
The right-hander, though, gave up two runs in three innings against the Yankees on Sept. 2 before leaving with right elbow inflammation, and he hasn't pitched since.
Manager Buck Showalter said he expects Tillman to throw another side session before facing the Mariners.
"I think he's going to have one more (side session) just to make sure it doesn't flare up," Showalter told the team's official website. "That gives us a good feeling about where he is and I think Monday will be a good spot for him."
Tillman has a 0.83 ERA while winning each of his three career starts against the Mariners, who split a six-game road trip after falling 2-1 to Texas on Sunday.
Justin Smoak homered for the second straight day and is 6 for 10 over his last three games, raising his average 10 points to .199. He had five hits over his previous 11 starts combined."I felt like I had good at-bats," said Smoak, who is hitting .194 in 11 career games versus Baltimore. "That's all you can ask for, having good at bats, squaring balls up."
Seattle will look to bounce back with help from Hector Noesi , who will make his first start since allowing four runs in five innings of a loss to Tillman and the Orioles in July.
Noesi (2-11, 5.54) lost five straight starts before being sent to Triple-A Tacoma following that defeat. The right-hander, though, was recalled Sept. 4 and has thrown two scoreless innings in each of two relief appearances, most recently Thursday versus Toronto.
Noesi said he has a different attitude since rejoining the Mariners.
"I think it's my position and I love to be a starter," Noesi told the team's official website. "I was being lazy before, so now I'm being more aggressive and throwing my pitches."
|September 11, 2012||Jason Hammel||Day-to-Day||Left game - right knee injury|
|September 09, 2012||Nick Markakis||Day-to-Day||Broken left thumb|
|September 02, 2012||Chris Tillman||Day-to-Day||Left game - stiff right elbow|
|August 22, 2012||Matt Wieters||Day-to-Day||Left game - right shoulder contusion|
|August 13, 2012||Troy Patton||15-Day DL||Sprained right ankle|
|August 12, 2012||Wilson Betemit||15-Day DL||Sore right wrist|
|September 15, 2012||Casper Wells||Day-to-Day||Stiff neck|
|August 31, 2012||Michael Saunders||Day-to-Day||Left game - strained groin|
|August 25, 2012||Michael Saunders||Day-to-Day||Sore groin|
|August 13, 2012||Mike Carp||15-Day DL||Strained left groin muscle|
|August 13, 2012||Mike Carp||15-Day DL||Strained left groin muscle|
|August 06, 2012||Brendan Ryan||Day-to-Day||Left elbow contusion|
SEATTLE (AP) -- Chasing their first playoff berth in 15 years, the Baltimore Orioles are getting contributions from everyone on the roster.
Nate McLouth provided a quick start with a leadoff home run and the Orioles beat the Seattle Mariners 10-4 Monday night to tighten the AL East race.
Matt Wieters hit a two-run homer and Adam Jones scored four times for the Orioles, who moved within a half-game of the first-place New York Yankees . Baltimore also opened a three-game cushion over the Los Angeles Angels for the second AL wild-card spot.
"Just like scoring in a lot of innings, it's just the pass-the-baton mentality," Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. "I think the pitchers feel the same way, too. They're staying focused for these nine innings, they turn the page, then there's the next nine innings."
Chris Tillman (8-2) allowed one run and three hits over six innings, supported by Baltimore's 15 hits. He struck out four and walked none.
"We're all clicking right now," Tillman said. "We're going on all cylinders, playing good baseball. It's fun to watch."
Jones and Tillman were two of the five players Seattle sent to the Orioles in a lopsided trade for left-hander Erik Bedard in February 2008. The right-hander is 4-0 with a 0.98 ERA in four career starts against his former club - and 11-17 with a 5.44 ERA against everyone else.
Tillman came out of his previous start Sept. 2 after three innings because of an inflamed nerve in his right elbow. He had three bullpen sessions since then and said he felt fine.
"He's done well, period," Mariners manager Eric Wedge said. "He's pitched well this year but, yes, he has pitched well against us, too. He's kind of short arm, over the top, a little bit sneaky, real good breaking ball. Then he mixes in his changeup a little. He did a nice job."
McLouth, Wieters and Jones had three hits apiece. Mark Reynolds added two RBIs, and Jones' four runs set a season high for a Baltimore player.
For the second consecutive game, seven players had at least one RBI for the Orioles.
Baltimore has not finished higher than third place since the team won the AL East in 1997. The Orioles had 14 straight losing seasons until this year.
The Mariners scored all their runs on homers. Michael Saunders hit an opposite-field shot, his 16th, to left in the second off Tillman. Eric Thames hit his eighth off Zach Phillips in the eighth and John Jaso had a two-run drive, his ninth, off Luis Ayala in the ninth.
The Orioles jumped on starter Hector Noesi (2-12) from the first batter and didn't let up until they chased him after just 1 1-3 innings.
McLouth opened the game with a home run into the right-field seats on an 0-2 pitch. Reynolds and Manny Machado each had an RBI single later in the first.
J.J. Hardy and Reynolds each had a run-scoring double in a four-run second, and Jones added an RBI single. Another run scored on an error for a 7-0 lead.
"It's everyone picking the next guy up," Reynolds said. "We need guys to get hot right now to stay in this race. The Yankees aren't going anywhere. Oakland is a good team. Tampa Bay is right there. The Angels are a really good team. We have to take care of our own by winning games. Whether it's Wieters or Jonesy or someone else, everyone has to step up."
Noesi gave up eight hits and six earned runs in his 54-pitch outing. He walked two and struck out one.
"Hector has to be better than that," Wedge said. "It just wasn't a good day at all for him."
Wieters hit a two-run homer to center in the fourth on the first pitch from Oliver Perez . It was his 22nd, tying his career high.
Endy Chavez finished the Orioles' scoring with an RBI single in the sixth.
"That's impressive, our production around," McLouth said. "Definitely not counting on one or two guys alone is pretty important."
NOTES: The Orioles have won six of seven meetings with the Mariners this season. ... Showalter said he's "pleasantly surprised" that OF Nick Markakis does not need more surgery on his injured right thumb. Markakis was hurt Sept. 8 and was given a six-week timetable for a return. It's unlikely he'll be available unless the club advances well into the playoffs. ... Orioles RHP Jason Hammel , who came out of his start last Tuesday with a knee issue, is progressing slowly, according to Showalter. It's uncertain when he will start again. ... Baltimore RHP Miguel Gonzalez likely will start Friday in Boston. ... Wedge started his regulars. "We are going to put out our best lineup," he said. He added that his players are doing more than just showing up. "No one is looking at the finish line right now," he said. "I don't sense that at all. They're all focused on today."