CINCINNATI – Michael A. Taylor, in his first game back from the injured list, robbed Reds outfielder Will Benson from a three-run home run in the second inning with a leaping grab over the center field wall.
Benson didn't give Taylor a chance in his next at-bat.
With two outs in the fourth inning, Benson mashed a two-run homer to the fifth row in center field and the Twins' offense never found a rhythm in a 7-3 loss Monday at Great American Ball Park. The Twins totaled three hits over seven innings against Reds starter Connor Phillips, who made his third career start, and lost shortstop Carlos Correa to a foot injury after the first inning.
Despite the loss, the Twins watched their magic number to earn a playoff spot drop to five because the Guardians lost to the Royals. The Twins, however, are unable to clinch before Thursday.
Joe Ryan, vying for a spot in the postseason rotation, permitted four runs in five innings. The Reds put a runner on base in each inning. It was the first time he allowed more than two runs in an outing since he returned from the injured list on Aug. 26.
Ryan threw a first-pitch strike to 12 of his first 13 batters, but he had trouble facing the bottom of the Reds lineup. In the second inning, the Reds opened with a walk from Tyler Stephenson and a Joey Votto single. After a strikeout, Ryan gave up an RBI bloop single to Noelvi Marte, the No. 8 hitter, after he fell into a 3-0 count.
Benson, batting ninth, lifted a first-pitch fastball to center field. Taylor, the Twins' center fielder and 2021 Gold Glove winner, beat the ball to the wall and timed his leap. Catching the ball above the wall, Taylor robbed a three-run homer to add to his long list of defensive highlights this season and forced Benson to settle for a sacrifice fly.
Taylor offered a smile after Benson raised his helmet in a sign of appreciation for the catch as he returned to the dugout.
In the fourth inning, it was Benson's turn to smile. After Marte drew a two-out walk in a seven-pitch plate appearance, Benson swung at another first pitch and there was no way to keep it in the ballpark. Marte and Benson, the bottom two hitters in the Reds lineup, combined to reach base three times against Ryan with four RBI and two runs.
The Twins didn't record a hit against Phillips, a 22-year-old who allowed eight runs in his first 82⁄3 major league innings, until Royce Lewis crushed a solo homer to open the fourth inning. Lewis bashed the down-the-middle fastball to straightaway center, a 424-foot blast that left his bat at 108 mph.
Lewis has 15 homers in 57 games this season, including four home runs in his last eight games.
Max Kepler followed Lewis' homer with a single to center, but Phillips retired the next 10 batters. Striking out seven batters, Phillips threw 93 pitches and 61 were fastballs (66%). Alex Kirilloff ended Phillips' streak with an opposite-field, solo homer in the seventh inning.
The bottom of the seventh inning snowballed on Dallas Keuchel, who was removed from the Twins' rotation after Bailey Ober returned last weekend. The first four Reds batters reached base with a walk and three singles.
After Keuchel induced a double play with the infield drawn in, Joey Votto bested Keuchel in a left-on-left matchup. On a sinker below the strike zone, Votto pulled the pitch past Kirilloff at first base for a two-run single.
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