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Manny being Manny: Ramirez propels Red Sox past A's

BOSTON (AP) -- Manny Ramirez provided a powerful lift to Boston's
struggling offense.

One night after he forced in the winning run when he was hit by
a pitch with the bases loaded, he won Saturday night's game in a
more conventional way. His tiebreaking homer in the sixth inning
and two RBI gave the Red Sox a 2-1 victory over the Oakland
Athletics.

"I think Manny wants to be the man," Johnny Damon said. "He
almost stepped in the bucket, mis-hit it and still hit it 450 feet.
It's amazing to watch."

But the Red Sox still aren't hitting like the team that leads
the majors with a .280 batting average. They've scored 21 runs in
their last seven games and have gotten by on strong pitching.
Bronson Arroyo allowed one run and three hits in seven innings, one
night after Tim Wakefield went nine in a 3-2 win in 10 innings.

"We just want to be one run better, whether it's 11-10 or
2-1," Red Sox manager Terry Francona said. "That's all that
really matters."

They've done that for a long stretch at Fenway Park, where
they've won the last 14 games decided by one run. Saturday's win
kept their AL East lead at 1½ games over the New York Yankees, who
beat Toronto 1-0.

Oakland is struggling in its stretch run toward the playoffs.
The A's are two game behind Los Angeles in the AL West and five
behind Cleveland in the wild-card race.

Arroyo (13-9) and Dan Haren (13-11) were locked in a 1-1
pitchers' duel when Ramirez came up with one out in the sixth. He
drove the first pitch onto the street behind the Green Monster
seats in left field for his 36th homer and 125th RBI this season.

Ramirez also singled in a run in the first.

"We had some chances today, but when it comes down to it, it's
the pitch I made to Ramirez," Haren said. "I just look back at it
and I'm mad at myself. I let that pitch get away from me. The loss
is because of me."

Haren gave up two runs and seven hits in seven innings with
eight strikeouts and a walk but didn't get much help from his
offense as the A's lost for the fourth time in five games.

"It's been our pitching staff keeping us in these games,"
Oakland first baseman Dan Johnson said. "We really haven't been
able to generate much offense."

Arroyo retired his first 12 batters before walking the first
hitter in the fifth. He gave up the first hit with two outs in the
inning, an RBI single by Marco Scutaro.

"I just felt like it was October, man. I could feel the
excitement in the crowd," Arroyo said. "The two double play balls
that I got tonight were huge for me."

Second baseman Alex Cora started both -- one after Arroyo walked
the first two batters in the fifth and another after the first two
hitters in the sixth singled.

"It kind of lets the air out of your tire," Oakland manager
Ken Macha said. "We don't have a whole lot of team speed, and
that's what happens."

Jonathan Papelbon pitched the eighth and Mike Timlin pitched a
perfect ninth to finish the four-hitter and earn his ninth save.

"Everyone, when they talk about our team they talk about your
offense," Damon said. "Our pitchers are capable of going out
there and throwing good games."

Arroyo improved to 3-0 in four starts. He struck out one, walked
three and allowed only singles to Scutaro in the fifth and Jason
Kendall and Mark Kotsay in the sixth.

Papelbon retired the first two batters in the eighth before
Kendall doubled and took third on shortstop Edgar Renteria's
career-high 28th error. He failed to catch Trot Nixon's throw to
the infield, allowing Kendall to reach third, but Kotsay flied to
left fielder Ramirez.

Haren gave up a run in the first on singles by Renteria, Ortiz
and Ramirez, but struck out the side. He retired 13 consecutive
batters before Damon singled in the fifth.

Game notes
Ramirez's homer was his 426th, tying Billy Williams of the
Chicago Cubs for 36th on the career list. Jim Thome is 35th with
430. ... The Athletics grounded into a double play for the eighth
straight game, setting a season high. They have 17 in that stretch
after grounding into two Saturday. ... Jason Varitek is in a
4-for-39 slump after going 0-for-3 with two strikeouts. ... Kevin
Millar's hitting streak ended at 13 games. ... Haren was 3-0 in his
previous four starts.