(Photo credit: David Kohl-USA TODAY Sports)
Jorge Polanco hit a two-out, two-run single in the top of the top of the ninth inning to rally the Minnesota Twins to a 5-3 victory over the host Cincinnati Reds in the deciding game of a three-game series Wednesday afternoon.
Willi Castro homered and had two hits and two runs scored, Christian Vazquez had a double among his two hits and Minnesota (81-72) lowered its magic number for clinching the American League Central to two while spoiling a 14-strikeout effort by Reds starter Hunter Greene.
Jhoan Duran (3-6) picked up the win with a scoreless eighth inning and Griffin Jax pitched around a leadoff walk in the ninth to notch his third save.
Christian Encarnacion-Strand hit a home run and Will Benson tripled and scored twice for Cincinnati (79-75).
Greene, who allowed one run on three hits over seven innings, reached a career high in strikeouts. He walked one, hit a batter and left after throwing 92 pitches, 63 for strikes. His 14 strikeouts were the most by a Reds pitcher since Ron Villone struck out 16 against the St. Louis Cardinals on Sept. 29, 2000.
Trailing 3-2 entering the ninth inning, Minnesota rallied for three runs against Cincinnati's All-Star closer Alexis Diaz (9-5).
Castro led off with a bunt single, stole second and advanced to third on a throwing error by catcher Luke Maile then scored on a single by Kyle Farmer to tie the game 3-3.
One out later, Vazquez walked and Sam Moll replaced Diaz. After Farmer and Vazquez executed a double-steal, Ryan Jeffers was walked intentionally to load the bases. Polanco singled to right to drive in Farmer and Vazquez.
Cincinnati took a 1-0 lead in the third inning when Benson led off with a walk, Jonathan India was hit by a pitch and TJ Freidl singled to score Benson.
The Reds extended the lead to 2-0 in the fourth inning when Encarnacion-Strand led off with his ninth homer of the season, a 393-foot drive into the left field bleachers.
Minnesota cut the lead to 2-1 in the seventh on Castro's ninth home run. But the Reds answered with a run in the bottom half of the inning to increase their lead to 3-1 when Benson led off with a triple to right-center and scored on a single by Maile.
The Twins closed to 3-2 in the eighth inning against reliever Ian Gibaut. Vazquez led off with a double into the right-field corner and scored one out later on a single by Edouard Julien.
--Field Level Media