CINCINNATI -- It was like a good old-fashioned game of tug-of-war.
While both parties had their chances to pull away for the win, the Twins held on to secure a tight 5-4 win against the Reds in Cincinnati to take the opener of the three-game Interleague series Friday evening at Great American Ball Park.
Behind a lockdown performance from its bullpen, Minnesota rode two four-hit outings from right fielder Ben Revere and catcher Ryan Doumit to earn its eighth win of Interleague Play this season.
It wasn't the prettiest win, but it was certainly a big one. The Twins fended off a number of scares throughout the contest, including a threatening ninth inning.
Lefty Glen Perkins ran himself into a one-out jam with runners at the corners. With the Reds fans ready to erupt, Perkins struck out the next two batters to earn his second save of the season.
"Sometimes, you win ugly," Perkins said. "I made the pitches when I had to. My goal is to always strike them out anyway. There's no need to try and get a quick out if you're trying to face three guys for 15 pitches, I'm going to try to strike them out."
The game featured four lead changes in the first six innings, and the three combined homers extended the home run streak in Cincinnati to 60 games.
"It was a very exciting baseball game," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. "We fought back and got the lead back and that was huge. Then our bullpen, we did the best we could with it. Perkins made it real entertaining there at the end, but came up with some pitches and a big win for us."
It looked like it could get ugly from the start, as starting pitcher Nick Blackburn allowed a leadoff single to Reds shortstop Zack Cozart, followed by a two-run homer by center fielder Chris Heisey.
Despite having to play from behind early, the Twins slowly chipped away at the lead, adding solo runs in three consecutive innings.
Third baseman Trevor Plouffe continued his hot streak of late, tacking on a single in the second inning. Plouffe would advance to third on a ground-rule double from Doumit and score on a fielder's choice from Brian Dozier.
Revere scrapped out an infield single in the third inning and advanced to second on a throwing error from Cozart. He stole third on the following pitch, for his second stolen base of the night.
One pitch later, Josh Willingham drove Revere home on a sacrifice fly to right.
Revere, who played high school ball at Lexington Catholic High School just an hour and a half down I-75, entered the game in an 0-for-15 slump. He must have felt at home Friday night, chalking up four singles, two stolen bases and an RBI.
"I was lucky I had a pretty good game and just got back at it," said Revere, who added that 30-40 close friends and family were in attendance. "I had a big cheering section today, so it was nice. It was good, but I'm glad we just got the win. I just had to get myself going. I just found a good pitch to hit and luckily it found the hole."
Doumit's big day continued in the fourth when he tagged Reds starter Homer Bailey for a solo home run, his seventh of the season. The homer gave the Twins a temporary 3-2 lead.
Doumit, who has spent the past seven seasons in the NL Central with the Pirates, said he was familiar with both the opponent and the venue.
"I felt pretty good tonight," said Doumit, who added two more singles to his night. "I've played in this park a lot and I've played against this team a lot, and I've faced Bailey a lot. The comfort maybe of getting back to a National League park. It was a nice night at the plate and an even bigger night for the team."
The advantage was short-lived as Cincinnati responded in the bottom of the fourth on Scott Rolen's two-run home run to put the Reds ahead, 4-3.
But the Twins fought back yet again two innings later, kick-started by Doumit's leadoff single in the sixth. Another single by Jamey Carroll put two runners on with one out.
Joe Mauer stepped to the plate next, pinch-hitting for Twins starter Nick Blackburn. Mauer, who hasn't played since June 17 due to a bruised right quad, drew a walk, but was replaced by Liam Hendriks to pinch-run.
Center fielder Denard Span drew a second consecutive walk to bring in the tying run.
Then, in front of his proud audience, Revere added a sacrifice fly to his ledger to bring in the eventual game-winning run.
Once Minnesota took the lead, Gardenhire turned to his bullpen to close the game.
Blackburn tossed five innings, allowing four runs on five hits, earning his fourth win of the season.
Four relievers pitched behind Blackburn, shutting the Reds down on just four hits.
"Those guys have been clutch all year," Doumit said of the bullpen. "We expect that out of them. They're our go-to guys, they've been getting it done all year long in big situations and tonight is just another example of what they do."
Mark Clements is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.