Red Sox 8, Athletics 3

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OAKLAND, Calif. (AP)—Manny Ramirez is fairly certain he caught Mark Kotsay’s sinking line drive to left field in the eighth inning.

“I think I did,” Ramirez said. “The umpire said I caught it, so he was out.”

Replays sure made it look as if the ball bounced off the grass, but that’s just how well things are going for the surging Boston Red Sox.

David Ortiz homered and drove in four runs to lead the Red Sox to their 12th win in 13 games, a wild 8-3 victory over the Oakland Athletics on Monday night.

The A’s are baseball’s best team in their own ballpark.

“We just keep coming, coming, coming,” Boston manager Terry Francona said. “They’re very good at home and we know that. We think we’re a good team. There’s no sense of panic. We keep grinding.”

Ramirez and Ortiz hit consecutive home runs in the fourth inning off Barry Zito, and Bronson Arroyo (8-9) pitched 6 2-3 strong innings to win his third straight decision. Bill Mueller and Dave Roberts each hit RBI doubles in the seventh, and Ortiz added a three-run double in the ninth.

The Red Sox began a seven-game West Coast road trip by beating the AL West leaders, whose division lead was cut to 2 1/2 games over idle Anaheim.

The Red Sox remained 2 1/2 games behind the first-place Yankees in the AL East after New York beat Tampa Bay 7-4. Boston has won six of the first seven meetings against the A’s this season.

Kotsay homered twice for Oakland and Bobby Crosby doubled twice, including one that drove in a run in the seventh.

The game drew a Labor Day crowd of 37,839 and there was a playoff feel exactly 11 months after the Red Sox eliminated the A’s in Game 5 of the AL division series—Oakland’s fourth straight first-round playoff exit.

“It definitely felt like the playoffs to me,” Arroyo said.

Kotsay erupted in anger when third-base umpire Brian Knight ruled Ramirez made a backhanded catch of the line drive, and replays showed otherwise. Manager Ken Macha also argued on the play.

“He was in position and felt like he made the right call,” Kotsay said. “That’s all you can ask. It was a key play in the game, and obviously I’ll get upset. That’s just emotion. They’re human and they make mistakes.”

Kotsay stood on first base yelling, then started running across the diamond before being stopped by first-base coach Brad Fischer. The center fielder then took out his frustration by hitting a bucket of sunflower seeds in the dugout.

“Brian Knight was in perfect position. Ken Macha doesn’t understand umpiring positions,” crew chief Larry Young said. “The most important thing is to be set for the play, then make your call.”

Kotsay calmed down quickly, avoiding an ejection, Young said.

Then, when Kotsay fielded Kevin Millar’s single on one hop in the ninth, he held the ball up as if he’d caught it. Fans then began throwing plastic bottles and garbage on the field from all directions, causing a short delay.

“I thought I caught it legitimately, but I obviously trapped it,” Kotsay said. “There was one big (water) bottle I wanted to avoid. That’s not the right way to show their support. It’s dangerous.”

The only meeting Oakland has won in the season series was against Arroyo, a 15-2 loss to the A’s on May 27 at Fenway Park.

But the right-hander was sharp this time, retiring 11 straight after Eric Chavez’s third-inning single before Erubiel Durazo hit a one-out double in the eighth. Arroyo has won four of his last six starts. He didn’t walk a batter and allowed three runs on seven hits and struck out two.

Kotsay led off Oakland’s first inning with a homer to right, then connected again to start the third. Kotsay hit his third leadoff homer this season and sixth of his career.

Zito (10-10) took the loss in the deciding game against the Red Sox last year when he gave up a go-ahead three-run homer to Ramirez. On Monday, he didn’t let a baserunner past second until giving up both home runs in the fourth.

Ramirez hit his 38th homer leading off the inning, his 385th career homer, which tied him with Boston’s Dwight Evans for 45th place on the all-time list.

“Manny is a good guy to see what you’ve got in you as far as a man-to-man battle,” Zito said. “His home run was the only run-scoring pitch where they hit a good pitch.”

Ortiz followed with a solo homer to right-center, the 10th time the Red Sox have hit back-to-back homers this year and the sixth time by Ramirez and Ortiz.

Zito, who’s allowed a career-high 25 homers this season, allowed four runs on six hits in 6 1-3 innings, struck out four and walked three.

Boston’s Johnny Damon missed his fourth straight game with a jammed right pinkie.

Notes

A’s 2B Mark McLemore was a late scratch with swollen knees. … The A’s had a seven-game home win streak snapped. … Boston C Jason Varitek extended his hitting streak to 12 games.

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