CINCINNATI — Rafael Devers hit a three-run homer during a four-run fourth inning and the Boston Red Sox held on for a 5-4 victory over the Cincinnati Reds in the opener of a three-game series on Friday night at Great American Ball Park.
First-place Boston (89-64) leads the New York Yankees by four games in the American League East standings. The Yankees lost 8-1 at Toronto on Friday night, reducing Boston’s magic number to six to clinch the division.
The Red Sox already have clinched a postseason berth.
David Price (6-3) pitched 2 2/3 innings, allowing three hits with a walk and three strikeouts to earn the victory.
Craig Kimbrel allowed a single in the ninth inning for his 34th save of the season.
Second baseman Scooter Gennett hit a grand slam off Rick Porcello in the first inning to put Cincinnati ahead 4-1
It was Gennett’s fourth grand slam of the season to set a new Reds’ single-season franchise record.
Rookie Sal Romano (5-7) took the loss for Cincinnati (66-88), which lost its fourth straight game.
Romano, a Long Island, N.Y. native and long-time Yankees fan, was looking forward to facing the Red Sox. But, he didn’t have his best outing, allowing five earned runs with four walks and Devers’ three-run shot through four innings.
Right-hander Rick Porcello started for Boston and had a rare rough outing on the road, after posting a 1.35 ERA in his previous three starts away from Fenway Park. On Friday, he gave up four earned runs — all on Gennett’s grand slam — with three walks and three strikeouts.
The Red Sox loaded the bases with no outs in the first inning, but managed only one run on Mitch Moreland’s sacrifice fly.
Cincinnati, however, cashed in on its bases-loaded chance in the bottom half of the frame to end Boston’s streak of 26 consecutive scoreless innings.
Following a single by Billy Hamilton, double by Zack Cozart, and a walk to Joey Votto, Gennett crushed Porcello’s first pitch deep into the right-field seats for his 27th home run this season and fifth career grand slam.
Boston regained the lead against Romano when Devers clobbered his ninth home run of the season, a three-run shot in the fourth inning to put the Red Sox ahead 5-4.
NOTES: Reds 2B Scooter Gennett is the only player in major league history to have a four-homer game and three or more grand slams in a season. ... Gennett joined Lou Gehrig as only players with a four-homer game and four grand slams in any season. ... Reds C Tucker Barnhart on Friday agreed to a four-year contract extension through 2021 reportedly worth $23 million. ... Reds CF Billy Hamilton and 3B Eugenio Suarez returned to the lineup. Hamilton had been on the disabled list with a fractured left thumb. Suarez missed three games for the birth of his daughter, Nicolle. ... Red Sox LF Andrew Benintendi is a native of Cincinnati. He had roughly 1,000 friends and family members at Friday’s game.