CINCINNATI — The Red Sox took another step toward a division title, putting up another shutout that ended with a feel-good moment for their manager.
Mitch Moreland ended his long slump with a three-run homer, Eduardo Rodriguez pitched three-hit ball into the eighth inning, and Boston beat the Cincinnati Reds 5-0 on Saturday.
Boston has won 13 of 16, holding a four-game lead over the Yankees with eight to play. The Red Sox are trying to win back-to-back AL East titles for the first time since divisional realignment in 1969. They’ve got their best record of the season at 90-64, reaching 90 wins for the second year in a row.
It ended with a ninth inning that was unlike anything manager John Farrell has experienced. His son, Luke, relieved for the Reds, giving them a special moment in a competitive situation.
"It was somewhat surreal," he said. "Very proud. You’re standing there looking through a netting in the dugout and you think you’re maybe watching him throw back in Little League, in high school. To see it happen on a major league mound – a special day, a special inning."
The reliever walked two in a scoreless inning and glanced back at the Boston dugout, momentarily removing his cap, as he headed for the Reds dugout.
"There was a little added pressure for me," said Luke Farrell, who like his father wears No. 52. "That’s the first time we’ve been on the same field together. You want to do well for your team."
The last time a manager faced his son as an opposing player was 2004, when the Giants’ Felipe Alou went against his son Moises of the Cubs.
"There’s a major conflict going on inside," John Farrell said. "You’re always pulling for your guys, but that’s a unique arrangement there."
The Red Sox got what they wanted, closing in on a title with an offense that’s an anomaly in the homer-heavy major leagues. Moreland’s shot off Robert Stephenson (5-6) was the 160th by a Red Sox, fewest in the AL.
"That gives us a little breathing room," said Moreland, who broke an 0-for-19 slump with only his second homer in September. "That was nice."
Rodriguez (6-6) has given up two or fewer earned runs in each of his last four starts, the best stretch of his career. The left-hander gave up three singles and two walks in 7 2/3 innings, his longest outing since May 21, making sure he’ll be in the conversation for a prominent postseason role.
He would love a chance to start a playoff game.
"That’s going to be the best feeling in the world," he said. "That’s what people who have started in the playoffs tell me."
The Red Sox have shutout victories in three of their last four games, including two at Baltimore. They are 7-1 on a trip that ends Sunday. Boston wraps up the regular season at Fenway Park with three games against Toronto and four against Houston.
Red Sox outfielder Andrew Benintendi , who grew up in suburban Madeira and had hundreds of relatives and friends in the stands for the series, singled home a run in the seventh at the ballpark where he regularly attended games as a youth.
The Red Sox are 11-1 against the Reds all-time in their interleague series. The Reds beat the Red Sox in seven games for the 1975 World Series championship. Overall, Boston is 15-4 in interleague play this season. The Reds are 5-14.
RED TO GREEN
The Reds wore green jerseys and caps as part of their day honoring Irish heritage.
The Reds and Red Sox honored pitcher Bronson Arroyo , who is retiring at age 40. He came back from several years of arm problems and made 14 starts for Cincinnati this season before ending his comeback. Tributes on the videoboard included one from Eddie Vedder of Pearl Jam. Among his gifts were a customized guitar and guitar case. He performed with a band on the field after the game.
Red Sox: RF Mookie Betts was scratched from the lineup to get treatment on his left foot. He fouled a pitch off it during his second at-bat on Friday night but stayed in the game. It bothered him running on Saturday pregame. … INF Eduardo Nunez plans to run on Sunday, the next test as he recovers from a sprained knee,
Reds: CF Billy Hamilton broke his left thumb while bunting on Sept. 6 and returned Friday night, getting two hits. He was out of the lineup on Saturday as the Reds ease him back into playing.
Red Sox: Doug Fister (5-8) is 2-0 with a 1.35 ERA in three career starts against the Reds.
Reds: Rookie Jackson Stephens (2-0) makes his third career start. He gave up five runs in 3 2/3 innings of an 8-7 loss to the Cardinals on Tuesday.