ARLINGTON, Texas — Cliff Lee's complete-game debut for the Texas Rangers was spoiled by Chris Tillman, who took a no-hitter into the seventh inning and led the Baltimore Orioles to a 6-1 victory over the AL West leaders on Saturday night.
Lee, the 2008 AL Cy Young winner the Rangers got from Seattle in a six-player deal Friday, threw his AL-best sixth complete game even though he trailed 1-0 after giving up hits on his first two pitches and later yielded home runs in three consecutive innings.
Tillman didn't allow a hit until Ian Kinsler singled with one out in the seventh. The right-hander, recalled to start in place of injured Kevin Millwood, allowed two singles and an unearned run in his career-high 7 1/3 innings.
Baltimore, which has the majors' worst record, has won the first three games of the final series before the All-Star break.
The acquisition of Lee despite the team's bankruptcy proceedings and uncertain ownership sent a clear message that the Rangers want to make a serious run at their first playoff appearance since 1999. The pitcher was one of the most coveted players on the market, and Texas beat the New York Yankees and numerous other teams in getting him.
A crowd of 41,093 – including a Rangers' record of 14,300 tickets sold on game day – came to watch Lee (8-4), who had his fourth complete game in his last five starts. He threw 95 pitches while allowing nine hits with two strikeouts and no walks.
But Lee's first pitch for Texas was lined toward the right-field corner by Corey Patterson for a double. Miguel Tejada had an RBI single on the next pitch.
After that, Lee needed only 23 pitches to get nine outs. But Nick Markakis led off the fourth by pulling a pitch down the right-field line for the first of Baltimore's homers. Cesar Izturis, the No. 9 hitter, had a solo shot for his first of the season in the fifth, and Adam Jones hit a two-run drive an inning later to make it 5-0.
Lee was 4-0 with a 1.29 ERA his last four starts for last-place Seattle, including three complete games and an eight-inning performance in the other.
Tillman was recalled from Triple-A Norfolk before the game to start for Millwood, who was placed on the disabled list Tuesday with a strained right forearm. It was the 17th career start, fifth this season, for the 21-year-old right-hander.
Tillman was 0-3 with an 8.40 ERA in four starts for the Orioles before being sent back June 22 to Triple-A.
Texas didn't have a base runner until Elvis Andrus drew a leadoff walk in the fourth, when he avoided being picked off only because of an interference call against first baseman Jake Fox in the rundown. Andrus dived back short of first base, then started crawling toward the bag before getting up and running the other way.
The first Texas hit came on Kinsler's sharp single through the left side of the infield.
David Murphy led off the seventh with a sinking single to center field that ricocheted off and past Jones for a two-base error. Murphy scored on a wild pitch before Tillman was relieved by Will Ohman with one out.
Rangers slugger Josh Hamilton finished 0 for 4, ending his 29-game home hitting streak. That fell one short of the franchise record. Al Oliver hit in 30 consecutive home games at Arlington Stadium, where Texas played before moving into Rangers Ballpark in 1994. … The fireworks show scheduled Friday night that was canceled by order of the city after that rain-delayed game didn't end until 1:25 a.m. local time, was held Saturday night.
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