Ramirez returns, sparks Boston

BOSTON -- Manny Ramirez returned to the Boston lineup and went 1-for-2 with a walk as the Red Sox saw their magic number to clinch the American League East title cut to three with a 7-3 victory over Oakland on Tuesday night.

Boston also benefited from New York's 7-6, 10-inning loss to Tampa Bay.

After being sidelined for 24 games by a strained muscle in his left side, Ramirez singled and scored Boston's first run in the first inning, then walked to start a two-run fifth.

Curt Schilling also had plenty of rest and it paid off with his first win since Aug. 24.

Pitching for the first time in nine days so manager Terry Francona could arrange his rotation for the playoffs, Schilling (9-8) allowed one run and six hits and left after six innings with a 3-1 lead.

The Red Sox, who had lost six of nine, stretched their lead over New York in the division to three games with five games left.

The only run Schilling allowed was rookie Daric Barton's third homer of the season in the first. Barton has reached base in all 14 games he's played since being called up from Triple-A Sacramento on Sept. 10.

The Red Sox scored three runs in the eighth on former Athletic Bobby Kielty's sacrifice fly and David Ortiz's two-run homer, his 33rd.

Oakland scored twice in the ninth on Jack Hannahan's double and Kurt Suzuki's sacrifice fly.