BOSTON - 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's game in a more conventional way. His tiebreaking homer in the sixth and two RBIs gave the Red Sox a 2-1 victory over Oakland.
"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 decided by one run. Saturday's win kept their East lead at 11/2 games over the Yankees.
Oakland is struggling in its stretch run toward the playoffs. The A's trailed Los Angeles by 11/2 games in the West and are five games behind Cleveland in the wild-card race.
Arroyo and Dan Haren 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."