BOSTON — Just look what John Farrell did.

He took Boston’s best base-stealer and moved him from leadoff to No. 3 in the lineup.

That meant No. 2 hitter Dustin Pedroia had to hit leadoff, where he does not appear comfortable.

That Farrell …

He’s brilliant.

Maybe Red Sox fans won’t credit Farrell much – can a manager do anything right in Boston? – But the move certainly looked praiseworthy Sunday.

The former leadoff hitter, Mookie Betts, swatted three home runs. Forget the stolen bases (he leads the team with 18). Betts is tied with David Ortiz for the team’s home run lead (26).

“I may make a bet with him now,” Betts joked.

Betts has a pair of three-home run games this season. Only one other Red Sox player has done that since 1913 … Ted Williams in 1957.

“Makes you feel pretty good any time your name is said with his,” Betts said. “It means you’ve done something well. He had a great career and mine is just starting.”

True, Betts is only 23. Two other players had two three-homer games before they turned 24: Boog Powell and Juan Gonzalez.

You get the picture. Betts is putting himself in pretty good company. He is on the threshold of stardom.

“When Mookie gets going, it’s pretty incredible what he’s capable of doing,” said starting pitcher Rick Porcello, who benefitted much from Betts’ eight RBI.

By the way, that was the most RBI by a Red Sox player in a game since Bill Mueller in 2003.

That was the idea is dropping Betts to third – give him a chance to knock in runs.

“When we made this move (last Wednesday), there was some thought that if Mookie is going to stay on the power run that he’s on, maybe it’s got a chance to be with some people on base,” Farrell said.

“He was pretty spectacular. Just electric bat speed against a very good pitcher in (Zack) Greinke.”

One of the runners often on base for Betts was Pedroia. He jogged home on each of Betts’ home runs.

Pedroia went 5 for 6. He has never embraced the leadoff role but said anything but after Sunday’s game.

“I like leadoff,” Pedroia said, straight-faced. “I hit there most of life so it doesn’t matter.”

Translation: Pedroia will hit leadoff if necessary – although his numbers are usually better batting second and third. And while he has not hit leadoff most of his life (only 10 percent of the time in his major league career), Pedroia will do what the team needs.

“We’re at that point in the season where you have to find a way to win ballgames,” Pedroia said.

And the leadoff batter going 5 for 6 is a good way to win. Pedroia’s five-hit game was the fifth of his career – most of any Boston player in history.

“This is one of best organizations in all of baseball so I’m definitely proud of that,” Pedroia said.

Boston battered Arizona in this three-game sweep, scoring 31 runs. But, Greinke aside, Arizona features the worst pitching in the majors. The Red Sox do enjoy these routs, but there are times the production shuts down.

Going back to July 22, the Red Sox are 8-13. Seven of those losses came when the Red Sox scored two runs or less.

This season, Boston is 13-14 in one-run games.

“I wish there was a run bank that we could open up an account and put some of them in, and withdraw when needed,” Farrell said.

“We’ve talked a lot about missed opportunities where we’ve come up empty … We’ve hit into some tough luck. We may at times maybe gotten a little big with our swings, instead of staying with an all-fields approach.

“We’ve gone through cycles offensively. It looks like we’re headed into one of those better cycles where we’ve seen strong offensive output.”

An up-cycle in production would be good timing with an 11-day, four-city road trip coming up.

“Just got to go play hard and try to win games,” Pedroia said. “It doesn’t matter where we’re playing.”

And it doesn’t matter where you’re batting in the lineup. Just get on base before Betts comes to bat.


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