This story was corrected at 10:40 a.m. on 9/29/12
BALTIMORE – Aaron Cook couldn’t find the strike zone with any regularity, and when he did, the Baltimore Orioles — most notably rookie Ryan Flaherty — sent the baseball soaring into the distance.
It was a miserable night for the right-hander, although Cook wasn’t entirely to blame for Boston’s 9-1 loss Friday night. After all, he would have needed to be darn near perfect to win a game in which the Red Sox managed only one hit — a bunt single by Scott Podsednik leading off the game.
Cook (4-11) went one-plus innings, allowing six runs, five hits and three walks. Only 18 of his 42 pitches were strikes.
“I wasn’t making pitches. I was behind, and when I did come in there they hit balls over the fence,” Cook said.
After Boston scored an unearned run in the top of the first, Nate McLouth singled on Cook’s first pitch and Chris Davis hit a drive into the seats in right. After two singles and a walk loaded the bases with two outs, Flaherty hit a grand slam for a 6-1 lead.
“They solved him pretty quickly,” Red Sox Manager Bobby Valentine said of Cook. “He didn’t get that ground ball when he needed it.”
Boston didn’t do much offensively, either, in losing for the 14th time in 20 games. After Podsednik reached on a well-placed bunt to the right side, he took second on an errant throw, advanced on a bunt and scored on a sacrifice fly by Dustin Pedroia.
After that, Orioles starter Chris Tillman (9-2) allowed only two walks before leaving after eight exceptional innings. Troy Patton worked the ninth to complete the one-hitter.
“We’ve just got to get guys on and do things, you know?” Valentine said. “We did it in the first inning. But we’re not going to outslug them very often, that’s for sure. It looked like we were trying to slug a little tonight.”
The victory kept the Orioles one game behind the New York Yankees in the AL East. Both teams have five games left.
Tillman came to spring training with a 7-15 lifetime record. Although he pitched well in camp, he began the season with Triple-A Norfolk and remained there until July. In his last 12 starts, the 24-year-old is 8-1 with a 3.00 ERA and has become one of the most effective starters on the staff.
“He’s one win away from winning 10 games, but we hopefully have bigger fish to fry,” Manager Buck Showalter said.
Flaherty, a Rule 5 rookie, became the latest in a long line of heroes during the Orioles’ improbable season. He was batting .225 with five homers and 14 RBI in 72 games before hitting his first career grand slam.
Flaherty also doubled in a run in the fifth. The five RBI were two more than his previous career high, and it was only the third time he drove in more than one run in a game.
“Yeah, it seems like every night it’s someone new,” Flaherty said. “Whether it is a pitcher, a hitter, a play in the field, something. We’ll keep riding it.”