Red Sox blank Reds, trim magic number to 5


“I was was able to throw my fastball right where I wanted it almost all the time,” said Rodriguez. “And the slider was working really good today.”

With eight games left, Boston (90-64) has a four-game lead in the division after the Yankees beat the Blue Jays on Saturday.

Not only was Red Sox manager John Farrell pleased with the win, but he got to experience the joy of watching his son pitch. Luke Farrell pitched a scoreless ninth inning for Cincinnati. According to Elias, it is the first time in history a pitcher faced a father as manager. The last time a player competed against a team managed by his father was Moises Alou, playing for the Cubs, against Felipe, managing the Giants, in 2004.

Farrell strikes out Travis Farrell strikes out Travis

CIN@BOS: Farrell whiffs Travis in the 9th inning

Luke Farrell strikes out Sam Travis swinging in the top of the 9th inning

“That’s a lot of people that have played this game,” John Farrell said. “If that’s the first combination, if it’s denoted as the first, it’s a proud day, and that makes it even that much more unique. Like I said, a class move by [Reds manager] Bryan [Price] to put him in the game.

“You know what? He’s earned his way and we’ll see what unfolds and transpires through the course of time. Just very proud to watch him on a Major League mound.”

Clinging to a 1-0 lead in the sixth, Moreland changed the game when he unloaded on a first-pitch changeup from Robert Stephenson and smashed it with an exit velocity of 104.9 mph, according to Statcast™. Moreland’s 20th homer of the season traveled a projected distance of 411 feet. Moreland has now hit at least 20 home runs in four consecutive seasons.

“He threw a changeup, split the plate in half, top of the zone there,” said Moreland. “I was able to get the barrel to it. Just one of those where I’m trying to make something happen, especially with a couple of guys on there. So it was a good win for us.”

Holt's sacrifice fly Holt’s sacrifice fly

BOS@CIN: Holt opens the scoring with a sacrifice fly

Brock Holt drives a sac fly to center field to open the scoring for the Red Sox in the top of the 1st inning

The Red Sox got a sacrifice fly from Brock Holt in the top of the first to take the lead. That run was set up on a double by Xander Bogaerts and a passed ball by Reds catcher Tucker Barnhart.

Stephenson went six innings for the Reds, allowing five hits and four runs, just two of which were earned. He walked two and struck out four. Before the big inning, he was having a strong outing and throwing strikes. Of his 57 pitches through five innings, only 17 were balls.

“Everything was going really well. He had a soft double, a passed ball and a sacrifice fly to score the first run,” Price said. “From that point on, it was really some shutdown pitching.”

Benintendi's diving catch Benintendi’s diving catch

BOS@CIN: Benintendi lays out to make a diving grab

Andrew Benintendi ranges toward the left-field line and makes a fine diving catch in the bottom of the 1st inning

Stephenson error opens floodgates: Stephenson had been cruising and looked like he was going keep it going when Holt led off the sixth by hitting a 65-mph tapper back to the box. But Stephenson muffed the routine play, and Holt beat it out. After that came a walk to Andrew Benintendi and the game-breaking homer by Moreland.

“I felt like I was pretty upset with myself after that and I lost focus for a little bit,” Stephenson said. “I walked the next hitter and then left a split up to Moreland and he did what he was supposed to do with it.”

Moreland's three-run home run Moreland’s three-run home run

BOS@CIN: Moreland belts a three-run homer in the 6th

Mitch Moreland clubs a three-run home run to right-center field to give the Red Sox a 4-0 lead in the top of the 6th inning

Hometown hero adds insurance: With countless friends and family members at Great American Ball Park to cheer him on for the second straight day, Benintendi — the pride of Madeira, Ohio — belted an RBI single to left to open Boston’s lead to 5-0 in the seventh. It was Benintendi’s first hit of the weekend.

Benintendi's RBI single Benintendi’s RBI single

BOS@CIN: Benintendi lines an RBI single to left

Andrew Benintendi smacks an RBI single to left field to give the Red Sox a 5-0 lead in the top of the 7th inning

“In terms of efficiency, that was probably one of the best games I’ve thrown this year — up to that point — just being able to throw a lot of strikes. Their team was pretty aggressive, and they helped me get a lot of quick outs.” — Stephenson

“Well, that’s something we had to clear up. He’s not going to win a batting title, so Eddie took it upon himself to have a surprise attack.” — John Farrell, on Rodriguez trying to bunt his way on with two outs in the second inning

Barnhart made his 100th start on Saturday, giving the Reds nine players who have made at least 100 starts this season, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.

Barnhart nabs Vazquez at third Barnhart nabs Vazquez at third

BOS@CIN: Barnhart nabs Vazquez attempting to steal

Tucker Barnhart fires to third base and throws out Christian Vazquez attempting to swipe the bag in the top of the 6th inning

The Red Sox are in strong position to win the AL East for the second straight season. It would mark the first time in club history Boston has won back-to-back division titles.

Red Sox: Right-hander Doug Fister, who has struggled mightily in his last two starts, will try to get back on track when he starts Sunday’s 1:10 p.m. ET finale against the Reds at Great American Ball Park. Fister has thrived against Cincy in his career, going 2-0 with a 1.35 ERA in three starts.

Reds: Cincinnati will look to rookie Jackson Stephens to help them avoid the sweep when he starts the Reds’ home finale on Sunday. Stephens will make his third big league start and work his sixth game overall. In Tuesday’s 8-7 loss in the 10 innings to the Cardinals, in which he got a no-decision, Stephens retired the first 10 batters before allowing five runs in the fourth inning — including back-to-back home runs.

Mark Sheldon has covered the Reds for since 2006, and previously covered the Twins from 2001-05. Follow him on Twitter @m_sheldon and Facebook and listen to his podcast.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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