KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Right-hander Chris Tillman hadn't pitched to his own exacting standards, or what the Baltimore Orioles needed from their ace, in more than a month.
Only once in his previous five games had Tillman registered a quality start -- and it was in a game the Orioles ultimately lost.
He reversed that trend Friday night with a tremendous performance in the Orioles' 4-0 victory over the Royals before 25,985 fans who braved another chilly evening at Kauffman Stadium.
Tillman allowed just five hits and one walk while fanning three in the 25-year-old's first career shutout. He had never thrown more than 8 1/3 innings before in his big league career.
"My personal goal is to get deep in the game every game," Tillman said. "I don't think about (complete games). But it is awesome. I'll take more of them."
It was something he had been pushing for this season. He came close to a complete game in Detroit on April 6 and was visibly irritated when he fell two outs short.
The masterpiece allowed the first-place Orioles to improve to 22-18 and at least secure a tie in the four-game series here. The Royals (20-21) have fallen under .500 again after getting above it Wednesday.
Tillman (4-2) set the tone early, throwing just 12 pitches in a scoreless first inning after struggling in his opening frame in his previous three starts in May.
"It's been frustrating," he said of his recent starts. "I tell you, it was getting (to) me a little bit. But we put a lot of work in between starts, and ... coming out of a start, you know what you need to do to be better."
He cruised throughout, putting multiple runners on base just once and never allowing a Royal to reach third base.
It was the complete opposite of the only other time he had pitched in Kansas City, back in May 2011, when he was still struggling to become a major league pitcher. He gave up eight earned runs in just 3 2/3 innings.
"He holds himself to a higher standard and never gives into, 'Well, that wasn't that bad,'" manager Buck Showalter said. "He never says that. He expects perfection, and he takes very seriously the day he pitches. He is a professional at a young age."
Former Oriole starter Jeremy Guthrie, who entered the night with a 4.80 ERA, retired nine of the first 10 batters he faced. But then he ran into self-induced trouble in the fourth.
Manny Machado led off with a bunt single that Guthrie fielded. The right-hander then threw the ball away, allowing Machado to second. He moved to third on a Guthrie wild pitch and then scored when Nelson Cruz singled to right.
Chris Davis, who had walked, moved to third on Cruz's hit and then scored when Steve Clevenger narrowly beat out a potential inning-ending double play.
"It was a big momentum swing," Clevenger said. "It gave us a second run in the ballgame, gave us a little cushion and let Tilly do some work."
The Orioles scored their third run against Guthrie on a sacrifice fly by Cruz in the sixth. Cruz, signed as a free agent this winter, now has 37 RBIs this year, second in the American League behind only Chicago White Sox rookie Jose Abreu.
Guthrie (2-3) lasted eight innings, allowing four runs on six hits and a walk. It was a huge improvement over his previous outing, in which he gave up a season-worst seven runs in 42/3 innings to the Seattle Mariners.
Guthrie was on pace to pick up his fourth quality start in nine games, but that was ruined in the eighth when Chris Davis hit a solo homer to right. It was Davis' third home run this season and first since April 23 at Toronto.
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