The right-hander finally got the chance Wednesday night, and he made the most of it.
Tillman pitched six innings of three-hit ball, Adam Jones went 4 for 4 with two RBI, and the Orioles beat Felix Hernandez and the Mariners 4-2.
Tillman and Jones were both traded from the Mariners to Baltimore in 2008 as part of a five-player deal that sent pitcher Erik Bedard to Seattle. Although the Mariners really didn't need a reminder of just how lopsided that trade was, Tillman and Jones did just that.
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Drafted in the second round of the 2006 draft by Seattle, Tillman (2-3) gave up one run in his first start against the Mariners. He struck out five and walked three before being lifted after throwing a career-high 112 pitches.
"It felt good," Tillman said. "First of all, it was good seeing those guys again, the few that are left. But I think that gave me a little extra boost; it got me dialed in a little bit."
Tillman ended his night by striking out Adam Kennedy with runners on second and third with two outs in the sixth and Baltimore up 4-1.
"He pitched well tonight," Kennedy said of Tillman. "Don't know if that was typically him."
Tillman has been both sharp and awful this season. He threw six innings of no-hit ball against Tampa Bay on April 2, but surrendered eight runs in 3 2/3 innings against Kansas City in his last start.
Kevin Gregg, the third Baltimore reliever, worked the ninth for his seventh save.
Jones put the Orioles up 4-1 in the fifth with a two-run triple off Hernandez, the reigning AL Cy Young winner. The four hits tied a career high for Jones, Seattle's top pick in the 2003 draft.
Unlike Tillman, Jones has faced the Mariners quite a few times since the trade. So he derived little satisfaction in helping defeat the team that traded him away.
"I don't care about playing the Mariners anymore," Jones said. "The only thing that's cool is to still see Ichiro [Suzuki] and some of my friends, some of the guys I played with. Besides that, they're another team now."
Hernandez (4-3) allowed four runs and seven hits in five innings. It was only the second time in eight starts this season that he yielded more than two earned runs.
"My command was way off. Made a couple of mistakes and paid," the right-hander said.
Seattle manager Eric Wedge added: "Felix just didn't have the command he usually does. But he's still a great competitor and he gave us everything he had.
"It's almost unfair because even when he is a little bit off, he's better than anyone else. He is human; sometimes people forget that. You're not going to be perfect every time you go out there."
Michael Saunders homered for the Mariners, who have lost four straight. Suzuki had two hits to extend his hitting streak to 14 games at Camden Yards, where he's a .389 lifetime hitter.
Baltimore used a three-run fifth inning to take a 4-1 lead. Hernandez retired the first two batters before Derrek Lee singled and Vladimir Guerrero was hit by a pitch. Luke Scott then grounded an RBI single up the middle and Jones followed with a liner to the gap in right-center.
Saunders homered off Jason Berken in the seventh.
After working a perfect first inning, Hernandez struggled the rest of the way. The Orioles used a pair of two-out singles and a walk to load the bases in the second, but Robert Andino grounded out to end the threat.
In the third, Tillman hit Brendan Ryan with a pitch and issued a four-pitch walk to Saunders before Chone Figgins hit an RBI single.
Baltimore got a run in the bottom half when Brian Roberts walked, took third on a single by Felix Pie and scored on a fly ball by Lee.
Orioles OF Nick Markakis stayed at home with a contagious strand of the flu and 3B Mark Reynolds was rested after a 9-for-71 skid dropped his batting average to .177. That left Lee as the only Baltimore player to participate in every game this season. ... Hernandez fell to 4-1 lifetime at Camden Yards. ... Roberts went 0 for 3 and is hitless in his last 26 official at-bats. ... Suzuki has 18 multihit games, second in the AL.