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Castillo dominates as Reds win series vs. Phils

MLB.com @m_sheldon

CINCINNATI -- There was no need on Sunday for Reds interim manager Jim Riggleman to make a tough decision on whether to let Luis Castillo pitch into the later innings and face the Phillies a third time through their lineup.

Castillo's smooth performance all afternoon made it easy for Riggleman to let him continue. A lead made the need for a pinch-hitter in place of the pitcher unnecessary. The right-hander turned in a season-high seven innings as the Reds took a 4-0 shutout of Philadelphia. While throwing 102 pitches, Castillo allowed four hits and a walk while striking out nine.

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CINCINNATI -- There was no need on Sunday for Reds interim manager Jim Riggleman to make a tough decision on whether to let Luis Castillo pitch into the later innings and face the Phillies a third time through their lineup.

Castillo's smooth performance all afternoon made it easy for Riggleman to let him continue. A lead made the need for a pinch-hitter in place of the pitcher unnecessary. The right-hander turned in a season-high seven innings as the Reds took a 4-0 shutout of Philadelphia. While throwing 102 pitches, Castillo allowed four hits and a walk while striking out nine.

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"It was really nice that he went as deep as he did," Riggleman said. "We would have been able to cover it if he didn't. I think more importantly, he sees he can do that. He can go through a tough lineup and get deep in a ballgame. He certainly didn't have to come out of the game there. He could have continued but we would have been stretching it a bit. It was very encouraging for him to go over 100 pitches and seven innings against that club."

Video: PHI@CIN: Riggleman on Castillo's dominance in win

Following a one-out single by Nick Williams to open the top of the fourth, Castillo retired his final 11 batters. Only two runners reached second base against him and both advanced there on wild pitches.

It was the first time Riggleman had a starting pitcher work seven innings since Sal Romano did so on July 10 at Cleveland. Romano was also the last Cincinnati starter to complete six innings -- on Wednesday vs. the Cardinals.

"It is very impressive. He has a really special arm," Reds catcher Curt Casali said. "You can ask anyone in here, that is the last guy you want to face when he is on. He was really attacking today. Not that he ever shies away from contact, but he was fearless today and definitely showed it."

It's been a season of inconsistency at times for Castillo after his breakout rookie season in 2017. But he appears to be on another upswing, as he's given up one run and eight hits over 12 1/3 innings in his last two starts with two walks and 14 strikeouts.

Two factors are working in Castillo's favor, it appears. Once again, with the aid of pitching coach Danny Darwin, he's found a better arm angle to get more life on his pitches. And when Castillo needs to mix it up for hitters, he can access his nasty changeup.

"My old arm angle that I used before the last two starts, I felt that my wrist was kind of staying behind," Castillo said via translator Julio Morillo. "This new arm angle, I feel that my arm is quicker and that's why the ball has more life."

Castillo's second-to-last pitch was a 97-mph four-seam fastball to Scott Kingery. He got him to groundout on an 86-mph changeup with the final pitch.

"In the sixth and seventh inning, when you know it's getting close to being out of the game," Castillo said. "It's when you throw everything that you have at the time."

According to Statcast™, Castillo used his changeup 28 times and it got 10 swings-and-misses, two called strikes, nine fouls and three balls in play.

"We threw a fair amount of sliders too, but the changeup was the devastating one, especially with all of the lefties in their lineup," Casali said. "Even if they are sitting on it, it is tough to hit."

Riggleman has become averse to letting his starters work late in games after often seeing them struggle the third time through an opposing lineup. Castillo has been susceptible to those troubles, as well. In the four times that he's pitched into the seventh before Sunday, hitters were 6-for-9 with a home run and two walks.

Castillo and Casali navigated the third pass of the Phillies' order well, recording seven outs, three of them on strikeouts.

"In the first two times, you execute the plan that you have. The third time today, it was like, 'OK, they saw me already for two at-bats. I have to change my approach,'" Castillo said. "I start with a different pitch than I started with the last two at-bats. That's what was the key today and I think what I'm going to start doing going forward."

In 22 starts overall, Castillo is 6-8 with a 4.98 ERA this season. After dropping the series opener, Cincinnati claimed the last three games to take the series from the leaders of the National League East.

"He had it all working today," Riggleman said of Castillo. "That's a very good lineup he's facing over there. For him to throw zeros up there [for] seven innings, that's very impressive."

MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Rally nets three runs: The Reds put together a rally against Phillies starter Zach Eflin in the bottom of the third inning. It opened with a double by Phillip Ervin to left field and Casali followed with an RBI double to left-center field.

Video: PHI@CIN: Casali rips an RBI double to open scoring

But the big hit came with two outs when Scooter Gennett hit a 1-0 pitch into the right-field seats for a two-run homer and 3-0 lead.

Video: PHI@CIN: Gennett crushes a 2-run homer to right field

SOUND SMART
The last time the Reds won a four-game series vs. the Phillies was Sept. 12-14, 1997, at Philadelphia.

HE SAID IT
"First thing I'd like to do here is give some credit to that really good, young, hungry baseball team over there and the job Jim Riggleman is doing as a leader. We knew coming into this series that their record was not an indicator of how good this club was. It's a good baseball team with a really tough middle of the lineup and some strong bullpen arms. So, kudos to them. They played well in this series. They pitched well in this series. They closed the door like they needed to. They got big hits. They did a good job. It's a good young club over there." -- Phillies manager Gabe Kapler, on the Reds

UP NEXT
Following Monday's off-day, the Reds will open a two-game set vs. the Tigers at 7:10 p.m. ET on Tuesday at Comerica Park. Homer Bailey, who had a solid return from the disabled list in a no-decision last Tuesday, will start against lefty Matthew Boyd. Bailey, in his first big league start since May 28, pitched 6 2/3 innings vs. the Cardinals and allowed two earned runs, five hits and two walks with eight strikeouts.

Mark Sheldon has covered the Reds for MLB.com since 2006, and previously covered the Twins from 2001-05. Follow him on Twitter @m_sheldon and Facebook and listen to his podcast.

Cincinnati Reds, Luis Castillo