CINCINNATI -- The difference between an exemplary Sunday afternoon vs. the D-backs and a losing performance for Reds starter Luis Castillo proved to be two fastballs over the plate. Castillo allowed a three-run home run in the first inning and a two-run homer in the sixth, accounting for the five
CINCINNATI -- The difference between an exemplary Sunday afternoon vs. the D-backs and a losing performance for Reds starter Luis Castillo proved to be two fastballs over the plate. Castillo allowed a three-run home run in the first inning and a two-run homer in the sixth, accounting for the five earned runs he gave up during a 9-2 Reds loss to Arizona at Great American Ball Park to prevent a three-game series sweep.
Castillo lasted 5 2/3 innings with five hits, one walk and seven strikeouts.
"Everything Luis did between the first and sixth was real sharp," Reds interim manager Jim Riggleman said.
A leadoff single and a one-out walk in the first inning preceded Castillo striking out A.J. Pollock for the second out. He was one strike from getting out of the jam, but an 0-2, 96-mph four-seam fastball to Daniel Descalso caught the middle of the plate and the lefty hitter knew just what to do.
Descalso drove the pitch to the batter's eye in center field for a three-run homer and a quick 3-0 Arizona lead. Castillo knew he made a mistake.
"It was supposed to be an inside pitch. I missed over the plate and he took advantage of it," Castillo said via translator Julio Morillo. "Sometimes when you're ahead in the count, you want to make that perfect pitch. You want to make that secondary stuff look perfect. I think that's when you get hurt a lot, instead of only just throwing the pitch. That's normal. Trying to make that pitch perfect is when you miss over the plate and get hurt like that."
Castillo retired 13 in a row after the Descalso homer and seemed poised for a deep outing until Jonathan Jay led off the sixth with a single that rolled past third baseman Eugenio Suarez. Next was Paul Goldschmidt, who drove an 0-1 fastball -- also 96 mph -- to the opposite field for a two-run homer into the right-field seats to give the D-backs a 5-2 lead.
"I made my pitch there. It was supposed to be inside," Castillo said. "It was inside, but he's a strong man and he just put a good swing on it inside the ball and hit a homer."
A two-out double by Descalso in the sixth inning brought Riggleman from the dugout and that was all for Castillo's afternoon.
Castillo, 25, is 6-10 with a 5.04 ERA in 24 starts this season. Two outings ago vs. the Phillies, he threw seven scoreless innings. Much like that start, he was changing speeds to good effect vs. Arizona. In the third inning after he struck out Jay with a 95-mph fastball, Castillo was able to also strike out Goldschmidt with an 85-mph changeup. In the fourth inning, after a first-pitch fastball to Descalso was called a ball, Castillo returned with three straight secondary pitches before getting the strikeout on a changeup.
"After the first home run, I was cruising," Castillo said. "I was throwing really good. But that thing happens and it's part of the game."
Castillo is tied for second in the National League with 22 home runs allowed. He's slightly ahead of teammates Tyler Mahle and Sal Romano -- both have 21 while Matt Harvey has given up 20.
"Lately it seems like we've been giving up fewer, we were giving them up at a record rate not two or three weeks ago," Riggleman said of the home runs. "That's kind of calmed down a little bit. Today we gave them up a little bit. Luis' performance, after the first inning, really after Descalso's homer, then right through to the fly ball that Goldschmidt hit out, he really threw the ball well. The score was 3-2 before Goldschmidt's home run to right field, we're in the ballgame, he's keeping us in the game. Then it's 5-2, it's going to be a little tougher. We can still come back from 5-2. We just needed to keep it there and see if we can get it back."
Thoughts of a comeback were wiped out in the four-run top of the ninth. Keury Mella was finishing the game on the mound for the Reds when he gave up three home runs -- a two-run shot to right field by Eduardo Escobar with one out -- and back-to-back two-out solo drives by Goldschmidt and David Peralta.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Reds get on the board: The Reds didn't get too many chances to hurt Arizona starter Zack Godley, who pitched 6 2/3 innings. They caught a break in the bottom of the second on a potential inning-ending double play grounder to first base by Preston Tucker. After the force play was made at second base, Godley covered the bag but didn't catch the throw from Nick Ahmed and was charged with an error which allowed Suarez to score to make it a 3-1 game.
In the third inning after a Jose Peraza one-out triple, Joey Votto drove him in with a sacrifice fly to center field that made it a 3-2 game. It was the 885th career RBI for Votto, which is eighth on the club's all-time list. It put him one behind seventh place's Ted Kluszewski and his 886 RBIs.
Another first-place team visits Great American Ball Park when the Reds host the Indians for the first of three games at 7:10 p.m. ET on Monday. Homer Bailey will start for Cincinnati against Cleveland's Mike Clevinger. Bailey lasted only 3 1/3 innings in a 6-4 loss to the Mets in his last start.
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.