CINCINNATI -- The Reds played a clean ballgame behind starter Luis Castillo, who wasn't perfect but did enough to turn it over to a Cincinnati bullpen that has been arguably the most consistent segment of the team this season.The right-hander pieced together 5 2/3 innings, and a three-run fifth inning
CINCINNATI -- The Reds played a clean ballgame behind starter Luis Castillo, who wasn't perfect but did enough to turn it over to a Cincinnati bullpen that has been arguably the most consistent segment of the team this season.
The right-hander pieced together 5 2/3 innings, and a three-run fifth inning powered the Reds to a 6-3 win over the Cubs on Friday at Great American Ball Park for Cincinnati's fifth consecutive win and its eighth in its last 10 games.
"That was one of the cleaner ballgames we've played," Reds interim manager Jim Riggleman said. "We really played a good ballgame offensively, defensively, ran the bases well, a lot of timely hits, good at-bats."
Castillo gave up three earned runs on four hits with five strikeouts and a walk, cementing his first victory since May 24 and snapping a string of losses in each of his last four starts. He is now 5-8 on the season.
Castillo was given an early 1-0 lead thanks to Billy Hamilton's RBI single in the first. Castillo posted three scoreless innings without surrendering a hit to begin the game, but ran into some trouble in the fourth. A Javier Baez two-out bunt hit plated Benjamin Zobrist to tie the game at 1. Kyle Schwarber maximized the damage a pitch later when he belted a fastball well over the wall in center field to give the Cubs a 3-1 lead.
"You are human," Castillo said. "You are going to make a mistake, and I made a mistake. I was trying to throw a two-seamer, it was over the plate, and he put a good swing on it and hit a homer, but overall, I think that I did a pretty good job."
The Reds would give Castillo the lead back an inning later when the middle of the lineup tagged Cubs starter Jose Quintana for a multirun inning the third time through for the third consecutive game.
Jose Peraza singled off Quintana to begin the fifth and stole second base. A Joey Votto RBI single scored Peraza and made it a 3-2 game before Eugenio Suarez blasted his team-leading 16th home run to center field to give the Reds a 4-3 lead. Suarez leads the Major Leagues in RBIs with 57 despite missing 16 games earlier in the season with a broken thumb. The Reds' lineup as a whole is hitting .322 over their last five games with nine home runs and 34 RBIs.
"I never try to do too much," Suarez said. "When you work hard it pays off. I am still working hard on my mentality and being ready for everything to hit well."
The Cubs ousted Castillo in the sixth when they put a couple of runners on base with two outs. Riggleman called for left-hander Kyle Crockett -- whom the team called up from Triple-A on Thursday -- to face Schwarber. Crockett, making his Reds debut, froze the Cubs slugger with a 2-2 slider up and in to escape the jam.
Cincinnati added an insurance run in the seventh on an Adam Duvall base hit to center field and another in the eighth thanks to an RBI single from Alex Blandino.
David Hernandez grabbed the ball in the seventh and turned in two innings of hitless relief with three strikeouts. The right-hander said he struggled to keep the ball down in the zone in his last outing and that he worked on getting more downhill toward the plate, which he believes helped with his breaking-ball command.
"Hernandez has really done a really nice job for us," Riggleman said. "That might be as good of two innings as we've seen from Hernandez."
Hernandez's handiwork bridged the game to Raisel Iglesias, who picked up his 12th save of the season and sealed the win with a scoreless ninth inning. The Reds bullpen has allowed one earned run in its last 9 1/3 innings.
"I will take our guys down there in the bullpen against anybody," Hernandez said. "We may not have the flashiest of names, but we compete and we trust each other. If one of us doesn't have it one night, the next guy will come in and get the job done."
MOMENT THAT MATTERED
Suarez hits go-ahead homer: Quintana had shown his changeup to Suarez once previously in the game. Suarez rolled over on a first-pitch changeup in the third inning and grounded out to third base. But when Quintana offered the same pitch again in a 1-0 count in the fifth, it caught entirely too much of the plate, and the Reds slugger belted it well over the center-field wall.
"That time I said I needed to be ready for anything he was going to throw me," Suarez said. "He missed with that changeup, and I hit it really well."
Votto went 2-for-3 with a double, an RBI and two runs scored. He reached base for the seventh consecutive game and has reached safely in 65 of 74 games this season.
YOU GOTTA SEE THIS
With two outs in the seventh inning, Ian Happ sliced a Hernandez offering toward the left-field line. Duvall got a good jump on the ball and made a nifty running catch down near his shoestrings to prevent extra bases and end the inning.
HE SAID IT
"We are a young team trying to find our identity and who we are. As the season progresses, we would like to see some results in a positive direction, and I think we have that going. Hopefully we can take it into the All-Star break and hopefully pick it back up after. We have plenty of good players around here. It is just a matter of putting it all together." -- Hernandez, on recent winning streak
Anthony DeSclafani will take the mound Saturday for the Reds in game three of this four-game set with the Cubs. The right-hander has made three starts since being activated off the 60-day disabled list on June 5 and has won his last two. DeSclafani is 2-1 with a 4.60 ERA during that stretch and is coming off an outing in which he went 5 2/3 innings and scattered two runs on three hits with four strikeouts and a walk in a win at Pittsburgh. Chicago will counter with Luke Farrell. First pitch is at 4:10 p.m. ET.
Brian Scott Rippee is a reporter for MLB.com based in Cincinnati.