BALTIMORE — Three years ago this month, Baltimore Orioles rookie left-hander Zac Lowther was at Camden Yards being honored as the organization's minor league pitcher of the year for his first full professional season, seemingly putting him on the fast-track to the majors.

It has been a shaky start since he finally arrived this summer, but a career-best game Thursday night in a 3-0 win over the Texas Rangers to begin a four-game series before 6,328 at Camden Yards reinforced to Lowther and the Orioles (49-104) that better days are ahead for the 25-year-old.

Lowther struck out a career-high seven in five scoreless innings of three-hit ball and did so by settling in quickly after being ambushed by a barrage of hits in his most recent starts.

"He's had a couple rough starts against teams in our division. Their lineups are primarily right-handed, a lot of power and veteran-type hitters, and tonight you just have way more confidence in how he threw the ball," Manager Brandon Hyde said. "You could see it from the first inning, so you hope he takes this into the offseason and understands he can pitch here. Now it's about command and changing speeds. As a left-hander that's not going to overpower you, you've got to be able to pitch to both sides of the plate. You're going to face a majority right-handed hitters.

"You've got to have weapons to get guys out with. Really, for me, it's fastball command and confidence in his off-speed, which he did tonight."

Those two facets are what Lowther credited for his strikeouts Thursday, which piled up early. Five of the first eight batters he faced struck out, and though he dealt with traffic on the bases in all but the third inning and reached 94 pitches quickly, he did well to keep Texas down.

"I think the ability to get in on these guys, got my fastball established inside and then was able to get some off-speed pitches over for strikes, and then being able to put them away was a big focus this week," Lowther said."My ability to do that got me the strikeouts, and my fastball command put me in the positions to get the strikeouts. I was very happy with that."

— Baltimore Sun