NEW YORK — Chris Tillman didn't feel well when he arrived at Yankee Stadium on Tuesday. Batting flu-like symptoms since a day before his last start, the Orioles sent him back to the team hotel early on Monday with antibiotics in hand, hoping some extra rest would help the right hander.
After giving up five runs to the Yankees in a 36-pitch first inning, Tillman couldn't have felt any worse. But he then watched from the dugout as his Orioles teammates provided him with a remedy no antibiotic could provide — instant offense.
The Orioles pounced for a seven-run second inning off Yankees starter Ivan Nova — capped by Chris Davis' first career grand slam — in an 11-5 win before an announced 42,821. The 11 runs were the most the Orioles have scored in a game in six weeks.
Earlier in the day, after the Orioles allowed the 4 p.m. non-waiver trade deadline to pass without making a move, manager Buck Showalter expressed that his team isn't just in the wild-card hunt. The second-place Orioles want to compete with the Yankees for the division crown.
"Is there another [mindset] to have?” Showalter said after the game. “That's why we get up in the morning, to try to win your division. It's going to be hard. They're extremely good. There's other teams trying to do the same thing, so we've got our work cut out for us. But we've had a couple good tests here and responded well."
The Orioles (55-49) have won four of their five games at Yankee Stadium this season and already clinched a second series win in the Bronx. They've also cut the Yankees' lead over them in the American League East to just 5 ½ games — after it was 10 games just 13 days ago.
The Orioles scored all seven second-inning runs with two outs. It was the most runs the Orioles have scored in one inning since a May 5 win in Boston and the most they've scoring in a single frame in the Bronx since May 20, 2008.
“Any game you play that's with a division rival, you want to win if you're at their place,” Davis said. “We were actually talking about it on the bench. We seem to buckle down when we play here and we play in Boston. If we can just start doing that every game and focusing in, hopefully not giving up five runs at the beginning of every game, we have the ability to go out there and put up a lot of runs.”
“This team's resilient,” said second baseman Omar Quintanilla, whose two-run single made the game 5-3. “It was still early in the game and we know we had a lot of ballgame to play, and we started putting hits together, and the next thing you know we're ahead. They went up in the first inning, but we still had eight to play. We just chipped away.”
And after his rocky first inning, Tillman (4-1) retired 13 of the next 15 batters, allowing just one baserunner to reach second base.
Tillman entered the game with a 12.27 ERA in three starts in the Bronx, with the Yankees hitting .448 (26-for-58) against him. When seven of the first eight batters he faced reached base, it looked like it would be a rough night for Tillman.
"I didn't feel all that great, but there's no excuse to not make good pitches there early on,” Tillman said. “This was a battle from the get-go for me, and I can't give enough credit to [catcher Matt] Wieters there for keeping me in the game. I was kind of out there fighting stuff on the mound, just trying to get through. ... Without [Wieters] back there tonight, I think it would have been a long night for me."
Trailing 5-3, Davis launched a 0-1 hanging curveball into the Orioles' bullpen in left-center for his 18th homer of the season. Davis has three homers and 10 RBIs in his last six games.
Before Davis' shot, the Orioles pecked away at the New York lead. With two on and two outs, Mark Reynolds lined a ground-rule double down the left-field line to score Adam Jones from second. Quintanilla then laced a single up the middle to plate two more runs.
"As a starting pitcher, it was good to see that,” Tillman said. “The longer you sit in the dugout, some guys complain about it, but I'll take that on a night like tonight."
Markakis finished with three hits — including two-run homer in the eighth, his 10th of the year — and Wilson Betemit also had three hits, including two doubles and two RBIs.
The Orioles were 6-for-14 with runners in scoring position after going 3-for-17 in that scenario in their previous three games combined. Over the last six games, the Orioles are averaging 6.2 runs — that after scoring four or fewer runs in 13 of their previous 16 games.
Nova (10-5) allowed a career-high nine earned runs and 10 hits over five innings. In two starts against the Orioles this season, Nova has a 12.19 ERA, having allowed 17 hits and 14 runs over 10 1/3 innings.
Despite his forgettable first inning, Tillman — who allowed five runs (four earned) on eight hits in five innings with five strikeouts — won his third straight start and became the first Orioles pitcher to allow five first-inning runs and still earn the win in 14 years. (Sidney Ponson did it on July 28, 1998 in a 5-4 win over Detroit.)
"It's definitely more exciting being on the other end of that,” Davis said of coming back. “It felt like the first inning was never going to end, and then we were able to come out there and take back the momentum and really quiet the crowd and kind of ride that out for the majority of the game, so it does really fly by when you're scoring runs like that. It feels a lot better than being on the other end of it."