AP Sports Writer

BALTIMORE (AP) _ Chris Tillman already has more wins in 2012
than the combined total over his first three years in the big

That might come as a shock, except nothing the Baltimore Orioles
do this season is all that surprising anymore.

Tillman pitched eight innings of one-hit ball, Ryan Flaherty hit
his first career grand slam and the Orioles beat the Boston Red Sox
9-1 on Friday night remain a game out of first place in the AL

Chris Davis hit a two-run homer as the Orioles kept pace with
the division-leading Yankees, who beat Toronto 11-4. Baltimore also
tightened its grip on the top AL wild-card spot.

Tillman (9-2) gave up a bunt single to leadoff hitter Scott
Podsednik, then allowed only two walks the rest of the way in his
longest outing since July 4. The right-hander retired the final 14
batters he faced, and the only run he allowed was unearned.

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. “He keeps
putting himself in a position to be worthy of getting the ball.”

Said Tillman: “I feel like I’m confident in my delivery, and
when you have confidence in that, things will play out well for
you. I just got to take it pitch-by-pitch and not get too worried
about the next inning or the next game. One step at a time.”

Troy Patton worked the ninth to complete the one-hitter.

It was the 90th win for the Orioles, who went 69-93 last season.
If Baltimore wins three of its last five games it will make the
postseason, regardless of how the other contenders fare.

Boston has lost 14 of 20. Starter Aaron 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.

Asked what he might have done differently to be successful, Cook
replied, “Not walk (anyone) and not give up hits.”

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 RBIs in 72 games before connecting to cap a
six-run first inning that included a two-run drive by Davis.

Flaherty also doubled in a run in the fifth. The five RBIs 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.”

Baltimore has hit nine homers in its last two games and has 122
at home, eclipsing the season record of 121 set in 1996.

In addition, the Orioles reached a positive run differential _
697-690 _ for the first time since June 24.

Boston scored an unearned run in the first inning. Podsednik
bunted to the right side and reached second when Flaherty’s throw
went wide of first baseman Mark Reynolds. Two batters later, Dustin
Pedroia hit a sacrifice fly.

In the bottom half, Nate McLouth singled on Cook’s first pitch
and Davis hit a drive into the seats in right. After two singles
and a walk loaded the bases, Flaherty sent a 2-1 breaking ball deep
into the night for a 6-1 lead.

Successive doubles by Reynolds, Manny Machado and Flaherty,
along with an RBI single by Taylor Teagarden, made it 9-1 in the

NOTES: Orioles C Matt Wieters wasn’t at the ballpark after his
wife gave birth to the couple’s first child, Maverick Luther,
earlier in the day. … Red Sox CF Jacoby Ellsbury, out since Sept.
20 with an unspecified injury, could return to the lineup as soon
as Saturday, Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine said. … Orioles
rookie Steve Johnson (4-0) will start on Saturday night against
Felix Doubront, who’s got a 2.08 ERA in three starts against
Baltimore this year. … The crowd of 33,518 boosted home
attendance for the season over 2 million for the first time since
2007. … Cook is 0-3 with an 11.93 ERA in four starts against the
Orioles in 2012.

(Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)


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