The Twins (81-72) had their magic number to clinch the AL Central trimmed to one game when Cleveland lost to Kansas City later in the day.
With Minnesota trailing 3-2, Willi Castro led off the ninth with a bunt single that got past Reds closer Alexis Díaz (9-5), then stole second and took third on catcher Luke Maile's throwing error.
“It was a good time to get a bunt down,” Castro said. “That was a game-changer.”
Kyle Farmer followed with a tying single, and Polanco added a bases-loaded, two-out single off Sam Moll a few batters later that scored Farmer and Christian Vázquez. Griffin Jax pitched the bottom of the inning for his third save.
“It doesn’t happen very much with Alexis that a team comes back and ties it,” Reds manager David Bell said. “Do I think he could have stayed in and got it done? Of course, but we had Sam ready to go. Where they were in the lineup, their bats were left-handed. I thought Sam gave us the best chance.”
Polanco's tiebreaker followed an intentional walk that loaded the bases.
“I was just trying to be aggressive in the zone,” said Polanco, who was 0 for 4 with three strikeouts before the hit. “I was trying to get a good pitch in the zone and be aggressive.”
Acting Twins manager Jayce Tingler was happy to see his team take advantage once Greene was out of the game.
“That's part of the process,” he said. “They kept grinding. They were battling and grinding. It was nice to see them rewarded at the end of the game."
Greene allowed one run - Castro’s second home run in two days in the seventh - and three hits with one walk over seven innings. Greene improved to 3-0 over his last five starts. Ian Gibaut allowed a run on three hits in the eighth, setting the stage for Minnesota's ninth-inning rally.
“Days like today are really frustrating,” Greene said. "It is where we are in the season. Each game I pitch, this one and the next one, I feel like is the most important of my life. I haven’t won anything since high school. I haven’t felt this way in a very long time.”
Jhoan Duran (3-6) allowed a walk with two strikeouts to get the win.
Cincinnati (79-75) went into the game fifth in the NL wild-card race with nine to play, a half-game behind fourth-place Miami and one game behind the Cubs for the third and final wild-card slot. The Marlins and Chicago both played Wednesday night.
Christian Encarnacion-Strand homered and Will Benson tripled and scored twice to help the Reds take a 3-1 lead into the eighth.
Minnesota starter Bailey Ober allowed three hits and two runs with three walks and three strikeouts over five innings.
“I thought Bailey was pretty sharp,” Tingler said. “They got his pitch count up, but his misses were tight. He kept us in the game and allowed us to chip away. I loved the way the guys battled.”
Greene’s 14 strikeouts are the most by a Reds pitcher since Ron Villone piled up 16 on Sept. 29, 2000, at St. Louis.
Maile got a second chance at driving in Benson in the seventh after a video review showed that the ball clipped his hand on a bunt attempt before popping into fair territory. It became a dead ball, but because Maile offered at it, he wasn't awarded first base.
Twins: INF Carlos Correa (plantar fasciitis in left foot) was placed on the 10-day injured list, retroactive to Tuesday.
Reds: INF Jonathan India was hit in the left shoulder by a pitch in the third inning. He stayed in the game and even lightly skipped to first base.
Twins: RHP Pablo López (10-8, 3.58 ERA, 221 strikeouts) is the scheduled starter against an Angels’ pitcher to be announced in the opener of a six-game homestand Friday night.
Reds: LHP Andrew Abbott (8-5, 3.68, 112 strikeouts) is due to start against Pittsburgh on Friday night in the opener of Cincinnati’s final home series of the season.
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