"His fastball was crisper," said Orioles manager Buck Showalter. "Especially when you get them younger like 26, sometimes the arm strength develops even more, but command was the thing. Quite frankly, he didn't get the benefit of a lot of borderline calls like [Angels starter Dan] Haren was, but he was able to work through that. He was the difference today."
Chen, fresh off his first career Major League victory, tossed a season-high 6 1/3 innings and successfully pitched on four days' rest for the first time this season. Signed to a three-year deal this winter out of Japan, Chen had pitched on extra rest in his two previous starts and Showalter said the team will look to give him extra days - since Japan uses a five-day rest period -- whenever possible this season.
"Physically, I feel very strong and very good," Chen said through his interpreter. "The past two days I watched a lot of hitters and [thought], 'How different can I pitch?' I feel like I used all of my pitches very well and it was successful for a win."
Chen allowed a fourth-inning run on Alberto Callaspo's bloop RBI single, but largely held the Angels in check, twice striking out Albert Pujols and holding the Nos. 2-5 batters hitless. The lefty struck out five and was charged with five hits and three walks, two of which came in his final frame, as Chen issued back-to-back, one-out free passes to Callaspo and Bobby Wilson. That was enough for bench coach John Russell -- the acting manager with after Showalter was ejected -- who sent in reliever Darren O'Day to induce an inning-ending double-play ball from Peter Bourjos.
"He got us deep in the ballgame and was able to get those big outs," Orioles closer Jim Johnson said. "He battled all day and I think he has gotten better every time out since we first saw him. So we're really excited for him."
"Chen did a great job," added right fielder Nick Markakis, who drove in all three Orioles runs. "He pounded the strike zone. He gave us a chance and we ended up getting in some big situations at the end of the game, and it ended up working out for us."
Chen threw 58 of his 96 pitches for strikes in his third start of the season, lowering his ERA to 2.60 in the process. A Taiwan native, Chen has allowed seven runs (five earned) on 18 hits and six walks with 15 strikeouts over his first 17 1/3 Major League innings.