CINCINNATI (AP) — Jorge Polanco delivered a go-ahead, three-run homer in the ninth inning, lifting the Minnesota Twins to a 7-5 victory over the Cincinnati Reds on Tuesday night.
Heath Hembree (2-6) walked the first two Minnesota batters before striking out Brent Rooker. Polanco fouled off four two-strike pitches before connecting on a liner just inside the foul pole in right field.
“It was a great at-bat put together against a guy with good stuff,” Twins manager Rocco Baldelli said. “(Polanco) kept grinding it out, looking for a pitch to do something with. He forced the issue. He made the pitcher come to him and didn’t miss it.”
“We were trying to be unpredictable when an at-bat goes that long,” Reds catcher Tucker Barnhart said. “I felt we went with a pretty good pitch. I will have to look at it, but I don’t think it was a bad pitch. He’s a good hitter and put a good swing on it.”
The homer extended Polanco’s season-high hitting streak to seven games as the Twins finished 3-for-15 with runners in scoring position.
“I’m willing to bet on guys who are swinging the bat the way he is,” Baldelli said. “He’s really feeling it.”
Neither Polanco nor Hembree spoke to reporters after the game.
Mitch Garver had a three-run homer in the fifth for the Twins, who had lost four of their previous five games.
Danny Coulombe (2-1) got the final out of the eighth. Alex Colomé allowed a single and walk to start the Cincinnati ninth before finishing for his third save and first since April 7.
Jonathan India’s two-run homer in the fifth off Kenta Maeda gave the Reds a 5-4 lead. Eugenio Suárez and Tucker Barnhart went deep on Maeda’s first two pitches in the third.
Cincinnati couldn’t hold the lead in the opener of a six-game homestand coming off a 5-2 road trip.
The Reds are trying to keep pace with NL Central-leading Milwaukee, which started the day 7 1/2 games ahead. Cincinnati also trails San Diego for the second wild-card spot.
Cincinnati’s Joey Votto went 0-for-4 with a strikeout in his second game since a seven-game streak with at least one homer.
India, the NL rookie of the month for July, followed Shogo Akiyama’s pinch-hit single with a blast off Maeda that landed 10 rows deep in the left field stands.
Maeda led off Minnesota’s fifth with a single to left. After Rooker walked with one out, Garver’s three-run shot landed in virtually the same spot as India’s homer in the top of the inning, giving the Twins a 4-3 lead.
“I was trying to throw a fastball up and away,” Mahle said. “It leaked over the plate. He put a good swing on it.”
Maeda lasted five innings, giving up seven hits and five runs with one walk and nine strikeouts. Cincinnati starter Tyler Mahle also went five, allowing six hits and four runs with two walks and five strikeouts
FIND A SPOT
After going 5-for-5 while first baseman Votto got Sunday off, rookie Max Schrock made his first career outfield appearance as Cincinnati’s starting right fielder on Tuesday. He fielded a line drive flawlessly for the first out of the game. Sunday’s start was the first of Schrock’s career at first base.
Twins third baseman Luis Arraez tapped the top of a television camera with his glove while leaning into the dugout to catch Schrock’s foul popup in the second.
Twins: LHP Charlie Barnes (0-1) is scheduled to make his second career start in the finale of the two-game series after becoming the second pitcher in club history to allow one run or fewer and lose in his debut.
Reds: RHP Luis Castillo (5-10) has a 1.95 ERA since June 1.
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