NEW YORK -- Orioles starter Chris Tillman walked off the mound Wednesday night with his head down, his eyes fixated on the green grass at Yankee Stadium. The 22-year-old had put his team in a six-run hole, unable to make it out of the second inning. As Tillman retreated in the unforgiving spotlight, his pitching line -- big and bold and illuminating off the center-field scoreboard -- cast an ominous shadow on the start of a two-city road trip, leaving Baltimore buried early in a 7-4 loss.
"Not good, not good enough," manager Buck Showalter said of Tillman's five-out outing. "We're going to have to get better than that. I don't care where you're playing. The ball was up all night and they made him pay."
Tillman, who has had to shake what Showalter calls the "deer in headlights look," never looked in control on the mound, frequently falling behind, and again calling into question his staying power in the team's already-thin starting rotation.
"There's always options if you have to make an adjustment. We hope not," Showalter said of Tillman's performance perhaps forcing the Orioles to examine other options such as long relievers Chris Jakubauskas and Josh Rupe.
"I'm not at that point now," Showalter said. "We just got through a game. [Tillman] pitched one good game statistically, so-so in the other one and struggled tonight."
Tillman started the game with fastball velocity in the mid-80s -- a noticeable departure from the mid-to-low 90s he has had in seasons past -- and a lack of movement that is an alarming sign as Tillman tries to prove he can be an effective Major League starter. Tillman, who turns 23 on Friday, allowed singles to the first three Yankees batters -- saved an early run only by catcher Matt Wieters throwing out Brett Gardner -- before Alex Rodriguez sent a 2-0 pitch into the bleachers for a quick three runs.
"We were a couple pitches away from being a little better than [down] 6-0, but we got behind the counts early," Wieters said. "And with this lineup you can't get behind the count and have to come in there with a fastball. They knew what was coming."
Coming off a 32-pitch, two-run first inning in his last start, Tillman labored through a 29-pitch first inning Wednesday that put the O's in a hole they would never recover from. The Yankees' No. 9 batter, Russell Martin, belted a one-out double in the second, and after a pair of two-out singles -- including a 30-foot RBI single by Derek Jeter -- Tillman walked Rodriguez to load the bases for Robinson Cano. Cano's double down the left-field line scored another pair of runs and forced Showalter to dip into his bullpen, effectively ending Tillman's disastrous night.
"I was disappointed, the results are results," Tillman said. "I think anybody would be disappointed in this, you know? I'm more disappointed that I made some good pitches, and when it counted I didn't make those pitches. I missed middle almost every single one of those pitches, I missed middle. Whether it was up or down.
"It just goes to show, that's not going to cut it here."
Tillman's 1 2/3 innings was his shortest start since June 4 of last season, when he went 1 1 /3 innings in the O's 11-0 home loss to the Red Sox. His nine hits allowed tie a career high and are more than his season total (6) in the two starts coming into the game.
"I don't know if we needed six [runs]," Rodriguez said of the Yankees' early offensive attack to chase Tillman. "I just think overall we want to just keep professional at-bats and we want to keep passing the baton and trusting our teammates. I think the key is no easy outs."
Jakubauskas came on to replace Tillman two outs into the second inning and pitched 3 1/3 innings of one-run baseball, allowing only Jorge Posada's home run.
Yankees starter A.J. Burnett wasn't particularly sharp early, needing 53 pitches to get through the first two innings. But Burnett -- who entered Wednesday 2-0 with a 4.09 ERA -- kept the Orioles off the board until the seventh, stranding runners in scoring position in each of the first two innings.
Mark Reynolds doubled -- his second of the night -- one out into the seventh and Wieters blasted Burnett's 2-0 offering over the right-field fence to put the Orioles on the board. It was also the first home run of the season for Wieters. After Burnett issued a walk to Robert Andino, and an ensuing mound visit from Yankees manager Joe Girardi, Roberts took Burnett deep to cut the O's deficit to three. Roberts' two-run homer was his team-leading third of the year, extending his team lead in RBIs to 10.
"We just didn't pitch well early in the game," Showalter said. "That's what made it tough to win a game. You keep that at two, three, four runs, we're right there."
Brittany Ghiroli is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, Britt's Bird Watch, and follow her on Twitter @britt_ghiroli. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.