Betts leads Sox past Reds; magic number now fourBy JEFF WALLNER
The Sports Xchange
September 24. 2017 9:49PM
CINCINNATI — Outfielder Mookie Betts removed the ice and bandage from his right foot to talk to reporters about the latest Boston Red Sox rally, one that has them going back to Fenway Park that much closer to an American League East title.
“We’re resilient,” Betts said. “We play all 27 outs, sometimes more.”
Betts returned to the lineup after missing a game with a foot contusion and delivered a three-run double to highlight a four-run eighth inning. The hit helped the Red Sox rally for a 5-4 victory over the Cincinnati Reds in the finale of a three-game series on Sunday afternoon at Great American Ball Park.
Rafael Devers homered for the Red Sox, who swept the series to complete an 8-1 road trip and reduced their magic number to four to clinch the AL East.
The Red Sox (91-64) lead the New York Yankees by five games. They lead the major leagues with 11 wins when trailing after seven innings.
“It’s never-dying relentlessness,” Red Sox manager John Farrell said.
Craig Kimbrel earned his 35th save with a 1-2-3 ninth inning. Robby Scott (2-1) earned the win.
A Red Sox win appeared unlikely when Cincinnati took a 4-1 lead in the seventh inning.
But Boston loaded the bases with one out in the eighth. Betts, still sore from fouling a pitch off his foot on Friday, doubled to center off Reds closer Raisel Iglesias to drive in three runs and tie the score 4-4.
It was Iglesias’ second blown save of the season. He also took the loss to fall to 3-3 on the season.
Red Sox starter Doug Fister allowed three earned on nine hits with no walks and nine strikeouts in 5 1/3 innings.
Fister, who owned a 9.69 ERA in this first inning this season, allowed a run on two hits including Scooter Gennett’s RBI double which put Cincinnati ahead 1-0 in the first. But Gennett was retired in a rundown trying for a triple, helping Fister avoid further damage.
Fister struck out seven through three innings, all but one was caught looking. He fanned all three batters he faced in the third.
“I thought he was as crisp as he’s been,” Farrell said. “Good command of the fastball, bringing that two-seamer back on the corner.”
Devers, who also homered in Friday’s series opener, hit his 10th of the season into the visitor’s bullpen in right, tying the score 1-1 in the fifth.
Devers’ homer was one of only two hits allowed by Stephens through five innings.
Stephens singled with two outs and Adam Duvall on first in the fifth.
Duvall was awarded home plate when Jackie Bradley Jr.’s throw to third sailed into the camera well, giving the Reds a 2-1 lead.
Hamilton followed with a triple into the right field corner, scoring Stephens to make the score 3-1.
Cincinnati had the bases loaded with two outs in the sixth, but Fernando Abad got Tucker Barnhart to ground to short to end the inning.
Reds rookie right-hander Jackson Stephens was in line for his third victory after giving up a run on two hits through six innings before the Red Sox rally in the seventh.
NOTES: The Red Sox swept the Reds for the fourth time and lead the all-time series 12-1. ... Red Sox INF Eduardo Nunez tested his sprained knee Sunday afternoon by running the bases. He met with the training staff to determine his status.