BALTIMORE (AP) – Manny Ramirez drove in three runs, Johnny Damon went 4-for-5, and the Boston Red Sox received a strong pitching performance from Bronson Arroyo in beating the Baltimore Orioles 7-2 Friday night.

Baltimore’s Rafael Palmeiro got two hits to get within five of 3,000, and his eighth-inning home run was his 564th, moving him past Reggie Jackson into sole possession of ninth place on the career list.

David Ortiz had two RBIs for the Red Sox, who are assured of being alone in first place at the All-Star break for the first time since 1995. The Red Sox lead the New York Yankees by 31/2 games and Baltimore by 4 in the AL East.

Arroyo (7-5) gave up one run and six hits in 7 2-3 innings, striking out three and walking two.

He had lost his previous two starts and was 0-2 with a 7.64 ERA in seven lifetime appearances against Baltimore.

Damon had two doubles, two singles and a walk in extending his career-best hitting streak to 23 games, the longest run in the majors this season.

Brian Roberts had two hits and scored a run for Baltimore, which dropped below second place for the first time since April 9. The Orioles are 3-12 since June 21, when they held a two-game lead in the AL East.

Boston used a two-run sixth inning to chase Sidney Ponson (7-7) and take a 5-1 lead. After a single and two walks loaded the bases, rookie Chris Ray replaced Ponson and gave up a two-run single to Ramirez, who upped his major-league leading RBI total to 80.

Ponson allowed five runs, nine hits and five walks in 5 1-3 innings. The right-hander is 0-3 in his last four starts.

Bill Mueller hit a two-run single off Tim Byrdak in the eighth to make it 7-1. Arroyo retired 10 straight before Palmeiro homered in the bottom half.

A two-out RBI single by Ramirez put Boston up 1-0 in the first inning, and the Red Sox added a run in the second when Ortiz got an infield hit with the bases loaded and two outs. Ramirez, seeking his 21st career grand slam, followed with a popup.

The Orioles closed to 2-1 in the third when Roberts hit a leadoff double and scored on a groundout by Miguel Tejada.

Boston made it 3-1 in the fourth. Mark Bellhorn drew a one-out walk, took third on a double by Damon and scored on a sacrifice fly by Ortiz.

Notes: Palmeiro’s first hit was a broken-bat grounder to left that foiled Boston’s infield shift and ended a 1-for-18 skid. … The Red Sox stranded 15 runners … Boston has won 13 of 18.

AP-ES-07-08-05 2253EDT

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