- Associated Press - Friday, April 11, 2014

BALTIMORE (AP) - Chris Tillman didn’t give up an earned run over eight innings and still ended up with his first loss of the season.

The Baltimore Orioles right-hander could have been upset. Instead, Tillman acknowledged that he was fortunate just to keep his team in the game.

Dustin McGowan allowed five hits in 6 1-3 innings, and the Toronto Blue Jays used two unearned runs to beat Tillman and the Orioles 2-0 Friday night.

Tillman (1-1) allowed three hits and lowered his ERA to 0.84, even though it took him a considerable amount of time to get comfortable on the mound.

“It was a struggle early. I just couldn’t get into a rhythm early on,” he said. “I was fighting myself to make the adjustments.”

He walked one and struck out six, but Tillman knows that sometimes numbers in the box score can be deceiving.

“You’re not always going to have your best stuff,” he said. “That’s part of the game. You are going to run out sometimes and feel great and not do so well. And sometimes you don’t feel all that great and do well.”

In spite of it all, Tillman might have escaped with the win. But two Baltimore errors and a lack of offensive support from his teammates was too much to overcome.

A pair of throwing errors by third baseman Jonathan Schoop provided Toronto with a 2-0 lead in the fourth. Jose Bautista reached on Schoop’s first errant toss and came around to score on the rookie’s second misfire. Dioner Navarro followed with a potential double-play grounder, but the relay to first base from shortstop Ryan Flaherty skipped past Tillman, allowing another run to score.

“Through the years, when you look out on that column that says error, if you’re leading that one on the bad side of it, you usually don’t like your chances,” Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. “When you play at this level there’s a fine margin of error. We just had two or three things we didn’t execute, and they really get magnified in a game that both pitchers are pitching that well.”

Making his second start since September 2011, the oft-injured McGowan (1-1) walked one, hit two batters and struck out two. He had faced the Orioles 13 times previously - going 0-3 with a 6.99 ERA and allowing 50 hits in 37 1-3 innings.

The right-hander spent time on the disabled list in each of the last six seasons. He had shoulder surgery in 2008 and 2010 and missed the entire 2012 season. In his debut this year, McGowan didn’t make it out of the third inning in a loss to the New York Yankees.

Against Baltimore, however, he allowed only one runner past second base in earning his first win since September 2008.

Brett Cecil got five straight outs and Sergio Santos worked a perfect ninth for his fourth save.

The Orioles‘ lone threat came in the fifth. Baltimore hit three straight two-out singles to load the bases for cleanup hitter Adam Jones, who flied out to center.

“A lot of guys hit balls right at guys. It’s just how it is with this game,” Jones said. “There will be days when we bloop them and they all find a home, but tonight, nothing. Crickets out there.”

McGowan had a lot to do with it.

“You tip your cap,” Jones said. “They pitched a good game.”

NOTES: Baltimore SS J.J. Hardy missed a fifth consecutive game with back spasms but expects to return Saturday. He received a cortisone shot Thursday and practiced Friday. … Right-hander Bud Norris returns from a six-day layoff to start for Baltimore on Saturday against Toronto RHP Drew Hutchison. … Ravens CB Lardarius Webb threw out the ceremonial first pitch. … Toronto SS Jose Reyes (hamstring) participated in running drills prior to the game. He’s expected to run the bases Saturday and then could “head out in the next few days” for a rehab assignment, according to Gibbons. … Bautista has reached base in all 11 games (13 walks, seven hits). … Orioles 3B Manny Machado (knee) will get two at-bats in a simulated game Saturday but will not run the bases. … Toronto leadoff hitter Melky Cabrera singled in the eighth to extend his hitting streak to 11 games. … Orioles LHP Brian Matusz was absent with an illness and did not show up at the ballpark.

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