Red Sox 7, Rangers 0

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BOSTON (AP)—Johnny Damon and the Boston Red Sox aren’t ready to concede the AL East title just yet.

Damon went 4-for-5 with two homers and four RBIs, Bronson Arroyo allowed three hits in eight innings for his first win since May 15 and Boston beat the Texas Rangers 7-0 Friday night.

The Red Sox won their fourth straight, their longest streak since winning five in a row May 21-26. After falling 8 1/2 games behind the first-place New York Yankees last week, Boston has cut the deficit to six.

“I wish I knew what I was doing so I could bottle it up and keep it going,” Damon said. “We feel like we can still win the East and don’t like to be written off.”

Damon, who extended his hitting streak to 14 games with a first-inning single, led off the fifth with his eighth home run to put Boston ahead 2-0. He followed with a two-out double in the sixth that drove in a pair of runs and made it 5-0.

Damon homered into the Rangers’ bullpen in the eighth and finished a triple shy of the cycle. He’s batted .447 during his hitting streak, the longest by a Red Sox player this season.

With Boston ahead 2-0, Nomar Garciaparra led off the sixth with a single, and Texas starter Joaquin Benoit walked Trot Nixon and hit Kevin Millar with a pitch to load the bases.

Bill Mueller’s sacrifice fly made it 3-0, and Damon’s double off reliever Ron Mahay drove home Nixon and Millar.

Nixon gave the Red Sox a 6-0 lead with an RBI single in the seventh.

Arroyo (3-7) matched his season high with seven strikeouts and allowed just one hit after the first inning, lowering his ERA from 4.50 to 4.09 while earning his first career win at Fenway Park.

Considering the recent struggles of Derek Lowe and a dearth of quality starters on the trade market, Boston’s best hope for a boost for their rotation remains Arroyo, who had dropped six straight decisions but has a 2.44 ERA in his last six starts.

“We can let (Arroyo) hide in the weeds. That’s what our horses are for in the front of the rotation,” catcher Jason Varitek said.

Curtis Leskanic pitched a perfect ninth to finish Boston’s eighth shutout of the season. The Rangers were blanked for the fourth time.

In the first inning, Damon scored on a sacrifice fly by Manny Ramirez.

Texas also had its share of misfortune. The Rangers lined into three double plays, two of which were turned by Millar.

“It was one of those nights. Things weren’t going our way, and Bronson seemed like he wasn’t going to make a mistake,” Texas’ Rod Barajas said. “He pitched a heck of a game, one of the best that’s been pitched against us.”

Garciaparra went 3-for-4 with three singles and is 14-for-30 in his last seven games.

Benoit (3-4) allowed five runs and eight hits in 5 2-3 innings.

“His command was off. He missed his locations a lot, and he paid theprice,” Rangers manager Buck Showalter said.


Red Sox DH Ellis Burks had a second surgery on his troublesome right knee Friday, as doctors performed a meniscus cleanup to try to clear out loose tissue. Burks is expected to be sidelined at least six to eight more weeks. … The Rangers haven’t won the season series against Boston since 1999. … Texas’streak of nine straight games with a home run was snapped.

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