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5
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4
  W: R. Scott (2-1)   L: R. Iglesias (3-3)   S: C. Kimbrel (35)
10:10 AM PT11:10 AM MT12:10 PM CT1:10 PM ET13:10 ET17:10 GMT1:10 10:10 AM MST12:10 PM EST12:40 PM VEN21:10 UAE12:10 PM CT, September 24, 2017
Great American Ball Park, Cincinnati, Ohio  Attendance: 25,545

Red Sox's Fister looks for better start against Reds

CINCINNATI -- Boston Red Sox right-hander Doug Fister adjusted his pregame schedule in an effort to improve his first-inning command. He's scheduled to make his 13th start of the season on Sunday afternoon when the Red Sox wrap up a three-game series against the Cincinnati Reds at Great American Ball Park.

Boston's magic number to clinch the American League East title now is five. The Red Sox (90-64) lead the second-place New York Yankees by four games in the division standings after the Yankees won on Saturday at Toronto.

In the first inning this season, Fister owns a 9.69 ERA with three home runs, seven doubles, and a triple allowed this season. By the fourth inning, Fister's ERA plummets to 0.77.

"That's the biggest issue for him, just to come out and command the baseball a little more regularly," Red Sox manager John Farrell said. "To me, the biggest key for him is the first out of every inning.

"When he records the first out of each inning, that's when he's in a much better position to put up a zero. Because he is a contact pitcher, first out is key for him."

Fister is 2-2 with a 5.00 ERA and 15 earned runs allowed in 27 innings in his past five starts. Most of that damage has been done in the first and second innings. He has allowed 11 earned runs in his past two starts, five in the first.

"There was an adjustment, getting the warmups started pregame closer to game time," Farrell said. "Every guy has their own routine. He had one, he would finish prior to the start of the game earlier than most. Just thought maybe that had something to do with re-establishing a release point and repeating the delivery. So we've shortened that up. The first inning has been somewhat of a challenge for him."

Fister is 2-0 with a 1.35 ERA in three career starts against the Reds. Fister owns a career 2.97 ERA in interleague games. He issued a season-high five walks in his last start at Baltimore.

"His start in Baltimore was uncharacteristic in terms of the number of walks issued," Farrell said. "He's a guy who's going to throw the ball over the plate and have good command. He's a contact pitcher."

Cincinnati (66-89) will send rookie right-hander Jackson Stephens to the mound on Sunday for his third career start. Stephens is 1-0 as a starter with an 8.31 ERA and eight earned runs and four home runs in 8 2/3 innings.

The Red Sox hope to have right fielder Mookie Betts back in the lineup on Sunday. He was scratched from his Saturday start with a left foot contusion. He fouled a pitch off the top of his foot in his second at-bat on Friday.

Boston leads the all-time series 11-1. The Red Sox have swept three of the four series played between the clubs.

The Reds and Red Sox haven't played each other since 2014. The most memorable meeting, of course, was in the 1975 World Series, won by Cincinnati in seven games. It's regarded by many to be the most exciting Fall Classic ever played.

Updated September 23, 2017

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