BALTIMORE -- Back at Camden Yards on the one-year anniversary of their 2011 season slipping away, the Red Sox were outplayed in every facet of the game by the Orioles in Friday night's 9-1 loss.
Unlike last Sept. 28, there was nothing on the line for Boston this time, except for the chance to play the role of spoiler in the American League East.
The Boston offense almost didn't exist in this one. Scott Podsednik opened the game with a bunt single. As it turns out, that was the only hit that the Red Sox produced for the entire game. The last time Boston had just one hit in a nine-inning game was April 30, 2009, against the Rays.
Chris Tillman was dominant for Baltimore, allowing just one unearned run over eight innings.
"We were behind his fastball most of the time," said manager Bobby Valentine. "We were out in front of his breaking ball. His curveball, he threw effectively. We didn't solve him."
Then there was Red Sox right-hander Aaron Cook, who was blasted for six runs and six hits over just one-plus innings.
"It was location," Cook said. "I fell behind early, putting them in good hitters' counts. I was just not making good pitches."
Cook made life real easy for Baltimore, as he didn't have command of any of anything.
The Orioles made him pay dearly, never more than when Ryan Flaherty drilled a two-out grand slam in the bottom of the first to pin Boston in a 6-1 hole.
"They solved him pretty quickly," Valentine said. "Just couldn't get that ground ball when he needed it."
Cook walked the first two batters he faced in the second, and his night was over.
"He left the ball up a little bit," said catcher Ryan Lavarnway. "Unfortunately when sinkers are left up, they don't sink. They were hanging sinkers and to their credit, they didn't miss them."
Initially, Alfredo Aceves gave the Red Sox some strong long relief, keeping Baltimore off the board from the second through fourth. With two outs in the fifth, the Orioles belted him for two consecutive doubles and a single, bumping their lead to 9-1.
Though it was a distant memory by the end of the night, the Red Sox actually broke out first in this one. Podsednik opened the game with a bunt single, took second on an error and moved to third on a sacrifice bunt by Pedro Ciriaco. Dustin Pedroia drilled a sacrifice fly to center and Boston had a 1-0 lead.
That wasn't nearly enough for Cook, who had a disastrous first inning. Nate McLouth led off with a single. With one out, Chris Davis drilled a two-run homer. Flaherty supplied the dagger later in the inning, and the Red Sox were looking at a long night in front of them.
The one bright spot for Boston is that Daniel Bard turned in his first scoreless outing in six tries since returning from Triple-A Pawtucket in late August. Bard worked around a one-out walk and kept the O's off the board in the eighth.
"Bard threw the ball with great confidence tonight," said Valentine. "He looked a little better. He threw two fastballs that looked really good. It was good."
As for Tillman, he was in a game-long groove.
"Once we hit the middle innings, it was every pitch," said Tillman. "I felt pretty good with all my stuff, and I was confident in the fact that we were able to get ahead and I was able to throw strikes."
The Red Sox, who are minus David Ortiz and Will Middlebrooks for the rest of the season, will get Jacoby Ellsbury back on Saturday.
"We've just got to get guys on and do things," said Valentine. "We did in the first inning. We're not going to outslug them very often, that's for sure. It looked like we were trying to slug a little tonight. That's not it. I don't think we're going to be able to do that to these two teams."