CINCINNATI -- A road trip defined by thrilling comebacks included one more for the rolling Red Sox, who came roaring back with four runs in the eighth to pull out a 5-4 victory over the Reds on Sunday afternoon at Great American Ball Park.
It was a fitting way for manager John Farrell's team to complete an 8-1 road trip and the 14th win in its past 17 games. Now the Red Sox head back to Fenway Park with the American League East title within their sights. The magic number is down to three, as the Red Sox extended their AL East lead to five games with the Yankees' loss to the Blue Jays on Sunday, and Boston can clinch the division as early as Tuesday.
"Raffy busted his tail down the line to beat out an infield single," said Farrell. "Mookie never broke stride. Certainly, it was an exciting play and an exciting player that you saw all dimensions from today."
Just a half-inning earlier, Billy Hamilton made a similarly electrifying play on the bases for the Reds. He was caught in a rundown between first and second. As he retreated back, Dustin Pedroia's throwing error hit the dugout railing. Hamilton turned on the jets and scored from first to give the Reds a 4-1 lead.
But the Red Sox would quickly erase that against Raisel Iglesias, who came up short in his bid for a ninth six-out save this season.
"I was really hoping we could get an out or two in that inning before using Iggy," Reds manager Bryan Price said. "[We're] trying to win every game you have a chance to win. It's been a long year. When you're in a situation to try to win a game, you get your best guy out there. I know it's been a long season for Iggy. He threw a lot of multiple-inning games. It's unfair to constantly ask him to have to dig us out of these situations with two-inning saves. It didn't work out at all today."
Of the Red Sox's eight wins on their road trip, four occurred by overcoming deficits of three runs or more.
"It just shows that we're resilient," said Betts. "We play 27 outs, sometimes more. It just kind of shows that you have to play a complete game against us."
Doug Fister had a nice bounceback effort for Boston after two tough starts, striking out nine and allowing three runs over 5 1/3 innings.
"Team win. That's what it comes down to right there," said Fister. "The guys kept fighting all day and battled through some stuff and put up a W in the end. That's what we need right now. We're teaching a lot of things about ourselves to one another. We can lean on one another, and that's a huge pick-me-up right there."
Jackson Stephens was strong for Cincinnati, holding the Red Sox to two hits and a run over six innings.
"All losses are deflating," Hamilton said. "We'd rather have a win in that situation. It's baseball and things happen, and you can't fault anybody."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Betts ropes 46th double in big spot: Iglesias was down in the count 2-0 to Betts in the pivotal at-bat of the game, and then got back to 2-2. Betts then unloaded on a 96.2-mph fastball for a drive that had plenty of distance to be a grand slam, but it sailed about 15 to 20 feet foul down the line. Two pitches later, he got an 87.6-mph slider and slammed it just over the glove of Reds left fielder Phillip Ervin.
"Just trying to put a good swing on a good pitch," said Betts. "I know Iglesias is pitching there so it's going to be a tough at-bat. Slipped in some good sliders, and I was trying to hit a fastball there, but I was able to get a hanger."
Abad picks up Fister: Lefty Fernando Abad came on in relief of Fister in the bottom of the sixth in a tough spot. The Reds had runners on first and second with one out and a 3-1 lead, but Abad prevented the deficit from getting any bigger. He got Scott Schebler and Tucker Barnhart on groundouts and brought his team back to the dugout within striking distance, which loomed large later in the game.
"It [stinks] because with the exception of a half-inning, we played a pretty darn good ballgame. You want these guys rewarded for the commitment and the effort. They haven't been rewarded enough. So it [stinks]. Losing [stinks]. Plain and simple. You guys know it, you've watched it. You lose a game like this where you have a lead late, just because we're 20 games under [.500], it [stinks] worse, truth be told." -- Price, on the frustration of Sunday's loss -- the Reds' sixth in a row
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
One ingredient most successful October teams have is a shutdown bullpen. The Red Sox are building momentum in that regard. Their relievers have allowed no earned runs over 21 2/3 innings. It is the fourth time this season they've had a streak of 15-plus innings without allowing a run.
WHAT'S NEXT Red Sox: Left-hander Drew Pomeranz begins a seven-game homestand that will complete the regular season for the Red Sox, facing the Blue Jays on Monday at 7:10 p.m. ET. Pomeranz has been Boston's most consistent starter since late May, going 13-2 with a 2.62 ERA in his past 22 starts.
Reds: Following Monday's off-day, the final six-game road trip of the season begins with Tuesday's series opener vs. the Brewers at Miller Park. In the 7:40 p.m. ET game, right-hander Deck McGuire gets his first big league start. McGuire will be the 16th pitcher to start a game this season for Cincinnati.