Chris Tillman appears poised to become the star of the Baltimore Orioles' rotation.
Looking for a third consecutive strong start, the right-hander tries to help the Orioles to a third straight victory Friday night when they attempt to continue their home success over the Toronto Blue Jays.
A first-time All-Star last season when he went 16-7 with a 3.71 ERA, Tillman (1-0, 1.35 ERA) allowed a solo home run in each of his first two starts, and 10 other hits with two walks over 13 1-3 innings combined. He gave up a homer to Torii Hunter and five total hits over 8 1-3 innings to outpitch Justin Verlander in a 3-1 win at Detroit on Sunday that snapped Baltimore's four-game skid.
"He's definitely working his way up to that (ace) status," teammate Nick Markakis told the Orioles' official website. "He's learning how to pitch, he's learning how to attack the zone, he's got confidence on the mound. And when you got confidence and talent, it takes you a long way."
Tillman faced the Blue Jays five times last season and went 1-0 with a 2.29 ERA in three home starts.
The Orioles (4-5) have won two straight and 13 of 18 at home versus Toronto (5-5), and hope to continue that success by building on a solid series in the Bronx.
Baltimore scored more than four runs once while losing five of seven before totaling 19 and 32 hits to take the last two at Yankee Stadium.
Tied 3-3 in the ninth Wednesday, the Orioles scored twice and held on for a 5-4 victory over New York.
"It's not always going to be pretty, you just look at the result," manager Buck Showalter said.
Rookie third baseman Jonathan Schoop hit a three-run homer off Masahiro Tanaka and Delmon Young added three hits as Baltimore won for the third time in four games.
Schoop went 5 for 12 with four RBIs against the Yankees after going 2 for 18 with a RBI in his first five contests.
Young is 7 for 14 in his last three games.
Last season's home run champ Chris Davis has yet to hit one this year, but is 10 for 27 (.370) in the last seven games. He hit seven of his 53 homers and had 19 RBIs in 2013 against the Blue Jays.
Scheduled Toronto starter Dustin McGowan (0-1, 13.50) is 0-3 with a 6.51 ERA in six starts against the Orioles, but has not faced them in that capacity since 2011.
The right-hander's immediate concern is on rebounding after he allowed four runs and eight hits in 2 2-3 innings of a 7-3 loss to the Yankees last Friday in his first start since Sept. 26, 2011. McGowan's 25 appearances last season came out of the bullpen in his return from missing all of 2012 with a foot injury.
"He's better than that and he'll get better than that," Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said.
Melky Cabrera had two hits but Toronto failed in its attempt to sweep Houston on Thursday, falling 6-4. Cabrera is batting .333 while hitting safely in all 10 games.
He's 2 for 12 in his last four games against the Orioles and 1 for his last 6 with a homer versus Tillman.
Baltimore hopes to have shortstop J.J. Hardy back after he missed four straight and five of six with back spasms. He's 5 for 15 in four games played.