Damon, Nixon, Varitek help Boston snap losing skid

ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) -- With his quirky delivery and a mix of different pitches, Bronson Arroyo kept the Texas hitters off-balance and won again while appealing his suspension.

The Boston Red Sox can sure use those kind of performances with Curt Schilling and David Wells on the disabled list.

Arroyo (3-0) worked seven strong innings for his eighth straight victory spanning 14 starts since Aug. 21, and Boston beat the Rangers 9-2 on Saturday night.

"Every time I pitch against these guys, it seems like they think a lot with me," Arroyo said. "It's a big chess match and it's fun. I'm comfortable against the guys, kind of mixing and matching pitches with them."

The Rangers managed just two runs and five hits against Arroyo, who pitched a day after being handed a six-game suspension for his role in two bench-clearing scuffles at Tampa Bay last weekend.

"We had a good idea of what he was able to do, and he was able to do it," Rangers manager Buck Showalter said. "He had a lot of different pitches. ... We never really did solve him."

Arroyo is 2-0 with a 1.71 ERA in three career starts against Texas.

Johnny Damon and Trot Nixon hit consecutive homers in the fifth for Boston, and Jason Varitek also connected.

The World Series champion Red Sox (12-11) snapped a three-game skid to avoid their first losing April since 1996. They had lost five of six.

"It was very important to finish the month over .500," Damon said. "We have too good of a team not to."

Damon led off the fifth with his first homer of the season, and Nixon followed by hitting another ball into the right field seats -- his third homer -- to put the Red Sox up 4-1.

Damon had four RBI while going 3-for-6, the sixth time in seven games he had at least two hits. He had a run-scoring double in the second and drove in two runs with a broken-bat single to cap Boston's three-run eighth.

While Arroyo pitched and Nixon played, Red Sox manager Terry Francona watched the game on television, just like the night before. Francona served the second game of his three-game suspension for the trouble during Boston's 11-3 win over the Devil Rays last Sunday.

Nixon is appealing his two-game suspension. David Ortiz plans to appeal the fine levied against him Friday.

Arroyo struck out five and walked one.

"Ever since the end of last year, I'm feeling confident every time I go out there," Arroyo said. "I'm more comfortable facing big-league hitters feeling that I can dominate the game if I do what I'm supposed to be doing."

After giving up the back-to-back homers, Pedro Astacio (1-3) walked Manny Ramirez and Ortiz but got out of the fifth after Kevin Millar's deep fly ball and a double play.

Astacio got just one out in the sixth, leaving after Kevin Youkilis had an RBI double to make it 5-1. Astacio allowed five runs and seven hits with five walks.

Youkilis started at third base after being recalled from Triple-A Pawtucket earlier in the day. He was 3-for-5, adding a run-scoring single in the eighth.

Varitek led off the ninth with his sixth homer.

Michael Young scored after leading off the Texas fourth and sixth innings with hits that snapped an 0-for-13 slump. Young doubled and scored on Hank Blalock's single in the fourth and two innings later singled and came home on a sacrifice fly by Alfonso Soriano.

Game notes
It was the first set of back-to-back homers for Boston this season. ... Astacio has allowed 12 runs over nine innings his last two starts. He gave up just four runs in 22 innings his first three
starts. ... Texas still hasn't won consecutive home games this season, dropping to 6-8 at home. ... Rangers reliever Doug Brocail
took over with the bases loaded and none out in the eighth. He struck out Ramirez and Ortiz before Millar flied out. ... Bill Mueller reached base all five times for Boston with four walks and a single.