But what Greene giveth, the bullpen taketh away.
The Minnesota Twins scored three runs in the ninth inning against closer Alexis Diaz and Sam Moll to turn a one-run deficit into a 5-3 victory, a devastating defeat for the Reds in their quest to qualify for the National League playoffs.
With only eight games remaining, the Reds have made their path to the No. 3 wild card spot a rocky journey.
Greene, the last man standing from the rotation that opened the season, gave a Cullinan diamond performance: 14 strikeouts, one run and three hits over seven innings on just 92 pitches. But manager David Bell turned it over to the bullpen after seven innings, usually a reliable protection agency, asked to protect a 3-1 lead.
But Ian Gibaut gave up a run on three hits in the eighth, including a run-scoring single to Edouardo Julien to cut the lead to 3-2.
Closer Diaz entered the ninth and was touched for a bunt single by Willi Castro. He immediately stole his 32nd base and continued to third when catcher Luke Maile threw the ball into center field.
Former Reds infielder Kyle Farmer singled to right, scoring Castro that tied the game.
Diaz retired the next batter, but when he walked Christian Vazquez, Bell brought in left-hander Sam Moll.
He struck out Trevor Larnach for the second out on a full count while Farmer and Vazquez pulled off a double steal.
That put runners on third and second, but Moll and the Reds were one out away from getting out of the inning.
Bell chose to intentionally walk pinch-hitter Ryan Jeffers to fill the bases.
Moll’s next pitch, to Jorge Polanco, was driven past second baseman Jonathan India, a two-run single and a 5-3 Minnesota lead.
Diaz had blown only two saves all season, but not only was it his third, but he was slapped with the loss.
Minnesota chose to bring in Griffin Jax to close the game in the home half of the ninth, a guy who had blown 14 of his 17 career save opportunities.
And he walked pinch-hitter Nick Martini to open the inning, but India struck out, TJ Friedl drove a deep fly just shy of the wall in right and Spencer Steer grounded into a game-ending force play.
Minnesota loaded its lineup with five left-handed hitters to face the right-handed Greene, a strange move because left-handers hit below .100 against Greene and right-handers hit .280.
Of his 14 strikeouts, the most for a Reds pitcher since Ron Villone whiffed 16 St. Louis Cardinals in 2000, Greene struck out the left-handers 10 times.
The Reds were facing 6-foot-9 Bailey Ober and the Reds made sure it was not Ober-and-out against the change-up maven.
Cincinnati took a 1-0 lead in the third when Ober walked Will Benson on a full count, hit India with a pitch on a full count and Friedl singled home Benson.
The lead expanded to 2-0 in the fourth when Christian Encarnacion-Strand extracted some revenge because the Twins traded him to the Reds for pitcher Tyler Mahle. CES homered over the left field wall, his ninth.
Greene’s only mistake surfaced in the seventh when he gave up a home run to Castro, a menace to the Reds the last two games of the series. It was his second home run in two games, and he made two above-and-beyond catches to rob Tyler Stephenson of a home run and a two-run single in the second game.
In between Castro’s home run, Greene struck out six straight and struck out the side in the sixth.
Bell, though, managing his 700th game for the Reds, determined that seven innings was enough and turned it over to the bullpen.
And they let the big one get away.
After an off-day Thursday, the Reds open a three-game series against the Pittsburgh Pirates on Friday night, their last series at home.
They finish the season with two games in Cleveland and three in St. Louis next week.
Pirates at Reds, 6:40 p.m., Bally Sports Ohio, 700, 1410