BOSTON — A Red Sox lineup that can't afford more injuries now has to deal with uncertainty about Eduardo Nunez's future, and at least a weeklong absence.
The utility infielder who has been helping to spell Dustin Pedroia at second base has a sprain in his right knee, to the posterior cruciate ligament, or PCL, which is in the back of the knee.
"He's going to be down at least for another a week," Farrell said. "He still had some tightness, had some swelling in the knee when he reported Sunday. Had similar symptoms yesterday, took him for an MRI. So there's not only knee bruising but there's some sprain of the knee itself, and we will re-evaluate him a week from today."
With the regular season winding down, Nunez's return is unclear, but he was optimistic when he spoke to the media in the dugout on Tuesday. Damage to a different ligament would have kept him out longer.
"The good news, it's nothing more serious," Nunez said. "It's just a week and we'll see what's going on."
Nunez said he was not going to try to push the knee more than normal because of the calendar. He's able to do exercises at the moment.
"Too early to tell," Farrell said of a return before the postseason. "But personally, in talking with him, in seeing how he's moving around today, compared to the two days following, there is improvement there, but we have to kind of wait and see how this week plays out."
CINCINNATI - Mitch Moreland ended his long slump with a three-run homer, Eduardo Rodriguez pitched three-hit ball into the eighth inning, and the Boston Red Sox took another step toward a second straight AL East title, beating the Cincinnati Reds 5-0 on Saturday.
Boston has won 13 of 16, holding off the Yankees as it tries to win back-to-back East titles for the first time since divisional realignment in 1969. The Red Sox have their best record of the season at 90-64, reaching 90 wins for the second year in a row.
They remain four games in front of the Yankees, who beat Toronto 5-1.
Moreland was in an 0-for-19 slump when he connected off Robert Stephenson (5-6) in the sixth inning, his 20th homer of the season but only his second in September. The Red Sox are last in the AL with 160 homers.
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.
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.
Mookie Betts, who fouled a ball off his left foot Friday night, and Dustin Pedroia, who has been bothered by a knee injury almost all season, were out of the Red Sox lineup Saturday against the Reds in Cincinnati.
Chris Young started in right field for Betts and Brock Holt at second base for Pedroia.
Betts was scratched from the original lineup but was a late scratch. Pedroia, who had been getting intermittent days off to rest his knee was originally expected to play but needed treatement and hopes to be able to play Sunday, according to Scott Lauber of ESPN.
Manager John Farrell told reporters, including Christopher Smith of MassLive.com, that Betts "was hindered by it last night in the second half of that game. [He] woke up a little bit more sore. Went through treatment. But felt it was best to give him a day to fully recover and get some additional treatment."
The manager added that Betts was available to pinch hit Saturday and did not have X-rays, but that step could be taken if there's no improvement in the next 24 hours.