CINCINNATI (AP) — Nick Martini came off the bench to hit a tying three-run home run in the eighth inning, Christian Encarnación-Strand drove in Elly De La Cruz in the ninth and the Cincinnati Reds came from behind for a 7-6 win over the Seattle Mariners on Tuesday night.
“I wish there was a secret sauce,” Martini said. “Pinch hitting is tough. I can’t say it’s the easiest thing to do. You just try to put a good at bat together and try to get the barrel on the ball. That’s basically all I’m trying to do when I pinch hit. Fortunately, that one had enough on it to get up.”
Julio Rodríguez hit two home runs for the Mariners (77-61), who have lost three straight for the first time since Aug. 12-14. The Mariners are a game behind the Astros and a game ahead of the Rangers in the AL West after Houston’s 14-1 win over Texas on Tuesday night.
De La Cruz led off the ninth with an infield hit, stole second and scored with a head-first slide on Encarnación-Strand’s single to right.
“I already knew,” De La Cruz said about beating out his grounder to shortstop J.P. Crawford. “Those guys are going to try to throw me out but they don’t have a chance. Of course it is good when you have other things to help get a victory.”
The comeback win was the Reds’ (73-68) major league-leading 44th of the season. Alexis Diaz (8-4) pitched the ninth for the win. Andres Munoz (3-7) took the loss.
“It says everything you need to know about our team,” manager David Bell said. “It hasn’t been easy. It’s not going to get any easier. It is good to know what it takes. It has to give you a lot of confidence that you can handle a lot.”
The Reds overcame four runs batted in by Rodríguez and Teoscar Hernández’s two-run homer in the first inning for their fourth win in their last five games.
“They’re a very athletic team with lots of speed up and down the lineup,” Seattle manager Scott Servais said. “We had our high-leverage guys going. They didn’t execute.”
Hernández’s homer was his sixth in his last 10 games and extended his season-high hitting streak to 14 games, one short of matching Rodríguez’s team season-high 15-game streak that was stopped on Sunday.
Rodríguez’s three-run opposite-field drive to right off former Seattle prospect Connor Phillips was one of four Mariner hits in the fifth inning and gave them a 5-1 lead. Rodríguez added a solo homer in the seventh.
The Reds were third in the NL Central behind first-place Milwaukee and the Cubs.
“It’s tough winning games this time of year,” Servais said. “You’ve got to grind.”
Mariners rookie Bryce Miller overcame hitting three batters and giving up seven hits to finish five innings. He allowed one run and a walk with two strikeouts. He got help from left fielder Dominic Canzone’s lunging grab of De La Cruz’s bases-loaded liner to end the fifth.
Encarnación-Strand and Noelvi Marte each hit solo homers off Dominic Leone in the sixth. Marte’s was the first of his career.
Phillips allowed six hits and five runs with two walks and seven strikeouts in 4 2/3 innings.
The teams combined to hit five batters, including Cincinnati’s Jake Fraley twice. Seattle’s Ty France was hit for the 30th time, extending his single-season franchise record.
Mariners manager Scott Servais revealed before the game that he lost a $100 bet with Phillips after the pitcher improved his first pitch strike percentage from 40% to 70%, though Servais didn’t pay up until he saw the pitching chart.
Reds: INF Kevin Newman (left oblique strain) was sent to Triple-A Louisville on a rehab assignment. … OF Hunter Renfroe was scratched from the original starting lineup with left hamstring tightness.
Seattle RHP Logan Gilbert (12-5, 3.56 ERA, 162 strikeouts) will face Reds RHP Lyon Richardson (0-1, 6.75 ERA, 9 strikeouts) in Wednesday’s series finale.