BALTIMORE — For a few minutes Friday night, the Red Sox looked like a team that hadn’t quit on its season.
Leadoff batter Scott Podsednik bunted for a hit and took second base on a throwing error. Pedro Ciriaco bunted Podsednik over to third and Dustin Pedroia delivered a sacrifice fly to center field.
It was textbook, efficient baseball and the Sox had a quick lead.
That was as far as it went in what turned into another embarrassing night in a season full of them.
Ryan Flaherty drove in five runs, including a grand slam, as the Orioles beat the Sox, 9-1, before a crowd of 33,518 at Camden Yards.
The bunt single was the only hit for the Red Sox. Chris Tillman went eight innings, allowing one run with two walks and four strikeouts.
The 24-year-old righthander retired the final 14 batters he faced, the overmatched Sox going back and forth to the dugout in methodical fashion with nothing close to a hit.
“We were behind his fastball most of the time and out in front of his curveball,” Sox manager Bobby Valentine said. “We didn’t solve him, that’s for sure.”
Troy Patton pitched the ninth inning to complete the easy victory for the Orioles. The Sox have lost three straight and seven of eight.
It was the first time the Sox have been one-hit in a nine-inning game since April 30, 2009 at Tampa Bay.
Sox starter Aaron Cook (4-11) barely got out of the first inning, giving up six runs on five hits.
Nate McLouth had a leadoff single before Chris Davis homered deep to right field, his 29th on the season.
With two outs, Jim Thome singled, Mark Reynolds walked, and Manny Machado singled to load the bases. Cook left a 90-mile-per-hour sinker over the plate and Flaherty drove it into the bleachers in right field for his first career grand slam.
“It was location. I was behind early and putting them in good hitters’ counts and not making good pitches,” Cook said.
The Orioles have hit 122 home runs at Camden Yards this season, a team record. They have eight in the last two games.
Cook walked the first two batters he faced in the second inning before Valentine pulled him. Cook, who has a 5.65 earned run average, has allowed 15 home runs and struck out only 20 over 94 innings this season.
The 33-year-old Cook is 7-21 with a 5.84 ERA the last two seasons with the Rockies and Red Sox. It speaks to how poor the Red Sox rotation has been this season that Cook has started 18 games.
Alfredo Aceves replaced Cook and got out of the second without allowing any runs. He also got through the third and fourth unscathed.
The Orioles got to Aceves with two outs in the fifth, scoring three runs.
Doubles by Reynolds, Machado, and Flaherty accounted for two runs. Taylor Teagarden then singled to center, making it 9-1.
The Orioles finished with 12 hits off four Red Sox pitchers.
Ellsbury near return
Jacoby Ellsbury missed his sixth consecutive game with what is believed to be a strained lat muscle. He took batting practice Friday and could be cleared to play on Saturday.
“He’s going to do everything today in practice, going to actually test everything today. Then tomorrow will be the day. I hope all goes well — throwing and hitting,” said Valentine.
Since returning from the disabled list July 13, Ellsbury has missed eight of the 71 games the Sox have played.
Teeing it up
Rookie third baseman Will Middlebrooks took a few swings at balls on a tee Friday. His right wrist, which was fractured in August, was sore but held up well.
“It’s a peace of mind thing for me and for [the team],” Middlebrooks said. “I’m going to be fine. It’s getting better. I’m just taking some easy swings to make sure I’m OK.”
The Red Sox sent Carl Crawford home last season with a sore left wrist that was supposed to heal with rest. But the pain returned when Crawford tried hitting in January and surgery was required.
The intent with Middlebrooks seems to be avoiding that same mistake.
Orioles catcher Matt Wieters, a new father, missed the game. Maverick Wieters was born Friday morning. “A name like Mav Wieters, got a chance to be pretty good. You know he’s going to be over 6 feet tall,” Baltimore manager Buck Showalter said . . . The Orioles have yet to announce a starter for Sunday, but it is expected to be Joe Saunders. The lefthander was acquired from Arizona Aug. 26. He is 2-3 with a 3.62 ERA in six starts . . . Red Sox righthander Zach Stewart, who is starting Sunday, turned 26 Friday . . . The Orioles are 11-5 against the Sox this season.Peter Abraham can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @PeteAbe.