CINCINNATI (AP) — Nick Senzel hit a game-ending, two-run homer in the ninth inning, stopping Cincinnati’s longest homer-less drought in 32 years and giving the Reds a 5-3 win over the Texas Rangers on Wednesday and their first series sweep since last July.
Brad Mills’ sacrifice fly off Lucas Sims (1-0) tied the score in the ninth. Kevin Newman singled leading off the bottom half against Jonathan Hernández (0-1) and took second on shortstop Josh Smith’s throwing error.
Senzel hit a full-count slider off the yellow padding along the top of the left-field wall, ending the Reds’ streak of 79 innings without a home run since Kevin Newman’s second-inning drive against Tampa Bay on April 17. The eight games without a long ball were the most for the Reds since 1991.
“We knew it was going to come,” Reds manager David Bell said. “It was a matter of time. It couldn’t come at a better time. We’ve been scoring in other ways, which was great. We have the ability to hit homers, too. They will come without trying to do it. That was certainly not on Nick’s mind in that at bat. It just happened because that is what happens when you put a good swing on the ball.”
After crossing home plate, Senzel was greeted by teammates who put a Viking helmet and cape on him. The Reds had not gotten a walkoff homer since Nick Castellanos beat Washington on Sept. 25, 2021.
“I was talking to David after the game,” Senzel said. “I told him we were making it hard on ourselves trying to scratch hit after hit. It’s nice to hit one out every now and again.”
“It’s in our DNA and in everyone’s character to keep battling in games like this,” Senzel added. “Some things haven’t gone our way, but we’re going to keep fighting.”
Cincinnati (10-15) completed a three-game sweep of AL West-leading Texas (14-10), the first series sweep for the Reds since last July 8-10 over Tampa Bay. The Reds never trailed in the series finale after overcoming a four-run deficit in the opener and a six-run margin on Tuesday.
“Mistakes here and there,” Texas starting pitcher Jon Gray said. “That’s not our game. We’ve got to get back to where we are. We’d have really good innings and then we tapered off. You have to stay on top of your game.”
Texas has lost three in a row for the first time since a seven-game skid last September.
“There’s nothing to be concerned about,” manager Bruce Bochy said. “I mean, we’ve got a lot of baseball left. These guys will bounce back. We have a tough team ahead of us, so we will have to play our best ball but no, no one is concerned, and we will continue to get better.
“It’s a bump in the road. That’s what it is, and like I’ve been saying, every club’s going to hit one.”
Reds starter Graham Ashcraft tied a season high with four walks, allowing two runs and six hits in three innings. He pitched out of a bases-loaded, no-outs jam, in the second, retiring Robbie Grossman on a popout, striking out Brad Miller and getting Josh Smith on a grounder to the right side. After beating Smith to the first-base bag, Ashcraft celebrated with an underhand fist pump.
Henry Ramos hit an RBI triple in the second and scored on Newman’s grounder to third, beating Josh Jung’s throw home. Nathanial Lowe hit a run-scoring double in the fifth and Adolis García tied the score with a sacrifice fly. TJ Friedl’s sacrifice fly put the Reds ahead 3-2 in the bottom half.
Ashcraft’s appearance was his first since the death on Monday of his grandmother, 82-year-old Ann Ashcraft, a Fort Worth, Texas, resident and Rangers fan until her grandson joined the Reds.
Cincinnati’s comeback Tuesday was its first from a deficit as large as six runs since a 7-6 win over Arizona on July 19, 2012, in Cincinnati.
Gray’s strikeout of Spencer Steer to end the fifth was Gray’s 1,000th.
Rangers: C Mitch Garver (mild left knee sprain) is starting to hit. Manager Bruce Bochy estimated Garver might need another four weeks … Jung left after two innings with a bruised left hand when he was hit by a pitch. X-rays were negative … OF Travis Jankowski left after three innings with left hip tightness.
Reds: 1B Joey Votto (left shoulder, biceps surgery) will continue to work out in Cincinnati rather than go to the team’s Goodyear, Arizona, complex, Bell said.
Rangers: LHP Andrew Heaney (2-1) is the scheduled starter on Thursday against the Yankees in the opener of a six-game homestand.
Reds: RHP Luis Cessa (0-3) is Cincinnati’s scheduled starter in the opener of a three-game series against the Athletics in Oakland.