CINCINNATI -- Brewers batters have enjoyed a lot of success in Great American Ball Park in recent years, but over the final 23 innings of a four-game series this week, Milwaukee's offense did not produce a run.
“It’s not something we’ve experienced here for sure,” Brewers manager Craig Counsell said. “Their two starters threw the ball very well.”
Luis Castillo picked up where Sonny Gray left off the day before, holding the Brewers hitless until the seventh inning to hand them a 1-0 loss on Thursday. It marked the first time Milwaukee was shut out in consecutive games since April 2018 against the Cubs.
Brandon Woodruff allowed four hits and one run in the first inning, but only three singles after that. Castillo was even better, giving up one hit over 7 2/3 innings with nine strikeouts.
Keston Hiura's single on the first pitch with one out in the seventh broke up the no-no. The previous two times Milwaukee faced the National League All-Star, the Crew tallied eight earned runs in 6 1/3 innings. It was Castillo’s first victory over Milwaukee in four starts this season.
“In the previous two starts against him, we did a good job laying off things and his command wasn’t as good in those starts,” Counsell said. “I thought our hitters had a good plan [today]. With Castillo, you have to pick a pitch, the fastball or the changeup, and he did a good job of keeping our hitters guessing."
The Brewers had only two hits on Thursday, including Christian Yelich’s double in the ninth inning off Raisel Iglesias. But Yelich was left stranded on third base as Iglesias notched his 16th save.
Counsell was asked if there was anything to be concerned about after his club went 23 innings without a run in a notoriously hitter-friendly park, or if it’s just a matter of the Brewers tipping their caps to Reds pitchers.
“They pitched well, but you don’t want that to be the story every day,” Counsell said. “We can’t lose our enthusiasm in this tough stretch offensively. We need to continue to go at it hard, throw out positive vibes and hope that it’s going to turn. You need to do something positive on every single pitch. [That] is the mandate for what we need to try to do. Pressure all we can.”
Milwaukee had only two baserunners through six innings against Castillo, both via a hit-by-pitch.
The Brewers were without Ryan Braun, who did not start due to some knee soreness after sliding into the wall on Tuesday going for a foul ball and being hit by a pitch on Wednesday. Tyler Saladino started in left field in Braun’s place.
Following a 69-minute rain delay, right-hander David Hernandez replaced Castillo and struck out Yasmani Grandal with a runner at first base for the final out of the eighth inning.
Castillo’s outing overshadowed another solid start by Woodruff, who did not walk a batter for the second straight outing. He has allowed one earned run or fewer in seven of his 18 starts.
“Teams the past few outings have tried to jump on me early,” Woodruff said. “Getting out of that first inning was pretty huge. They were tough. They were battling me. Every inning was having to go out there and make some good pitches. Castillo was really, really good today.”
A double-play grounder helped Woodruff escape further damage in the first inning after the game’s only run scored on Yasiel Puig’s infield single.
The Reds won the final three games of the series for their first series victory over the Brewers since sweeping them in September 2017.
“We’ll eventually start hitting,” Woodruff said. “We’ll get on a hot streak. Just stay with it, stay focused and get ready for the second half.”