BALTIMORE (AP) – Manny Ramirez hit his 40th home run and drove in three runs to back a strong pitching performance by Bronson Arroyo, and the Boston Red Sox took advantage of a key error by Miguel Tejada to hand the Baltimore Orioles their sixth straight loss, 6-3 Friday night.

Edgar Renteria had two hits and scored three runs for the Red Sox, who remained one game behind the first-place New York Yankees in the AL East with nine games to go. New York beat Toronto 5-0.

Ramirez singled in a run in the first inning and hit a two-run homer in the seventh. Boston’s cleanup hitter has four homers in his last three games and seven in his last 13 after going 17 straight games without connecting.

It is his third 40-homer season with Boston, tying the club record set by Carl Yastrzemski.

Arroyo (14-9) overcame a sluggish start to improve to 4-0 in his last five start, allowing three runs and seven hits in seven-plus innings. He’s 7-0 in September since joining the Red Sox last season.

Mike Timlin, the fourth Boston pitcher, worked the ninth for his 10th save. Timlin, who blew a late lead at Tampa Bay on Wednesday, has inherited the closer’s role from Keith Foulke, who is out for the season with two ailing knees.

Jay Gibbons drove in two runs for the Orioles, who were coming off a four-game sweep at the Yankees. Baltimore managed just one hit after the fourth inning.

Before the game, the Orioles told first baseman Rafael Palmeiro that he should not dress for the remainder of the season. Palmeiro, who was to return from a rehabilitation stint at home, has been a huge distraction to the team since his Aug. 1-10 suspension for steroid use.

Boston scored three unearned runs off Daniel Cabrera (10-12) in the fifth to take a 4-3 lead. With two on and two out, Ramirez hit a bouncer to deep shortstop. Tejada, who faced questions this week about a vitamin he gave Palmeiro, made a high and wide throw to first that allowed a run to score. Trot Nixon followed with a two-run double to right-center.

Ramirez made it 6-3 in the seventh with a shot to center off Eric DuBose on a 3-2 pitch after Renteria hit a leadoff single.

Boston used an RBI single by Ramirez to go up 1-0 in the first inning, but Baltimore scored twice on the bottom half. After Tejada and Gibbons hit run-scoring singles, Arroyo averted further damage by retiring B.J. Surhoff and Chris Gomez with the bases loaded. Successive doubles by Tejada and Gibbons made it 3-1 in the third.

Notes: Tejada’s third-inning double was his 50th of the season, tying the club record set last year by Brian Roberts. … The victory moved Arroyo over .500 for the first time in his career (33-32). … The game drew a crowd of 46,850, the Orioles’ 13th sellout. A majority of the fans cheered for Boston. … The Red Sox improved to 8-8 against Baltimore this season.

AP-ES-09-23-05 2256EDT

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