CINCINNATI — Philadelphia’s hopes of breaking out of a mini-slump ran smack dab into a quietly hot Luis Castillo.
The Cincinnati right-hander allowed four hits in a season-high seven innings, Scooter Gennett hit a two-run homer and the Reds wrapped up their long home stand with a third consecutive win over the Philadelphia Phillies, 4-0, on Sunday.
Phillip Ervin and Curt Casali each had an RBI and run for the Reds, who won a four-game series against the Phillies for the first time in nearly 21 years.
Castillo (6-8) allowed four hits and walk with a season-high nine strikeouts to earn his first decision in six starts since a 6-3 win over the Cubs on June 22. He retired 14 of the last 15 batters he faced, and the only baserunner in that span was eliminated on a double play.
The Reds have won six of his last seven starts, and the only loss was in 10 innings to the Cubs at Chicago on July 8. He lowered his earned-run average over his last five starts to 2.25, dropping his overall number from 5.85 to 4.98.
“I’ve been working on my arm angle with the pitching coach,” Castillo said through interpreter Julio Morillo. “I was working on it and focused on it today. With my old arm angle I felt my wrist was staying behind. I feel my arm is quicker with this arm angle.”
Even though he ended up needing to use three relievers to cover the final two innings, Interim manager Jim Riggleman was satisfied with Castillo.
“We got what we needed and then some,” Riggleman said. “That’s a very good lineup he’s facing over there. To throw zeroes up there for seven innings is impressive. It was really nice to get that start. We had a fairly fresh bullpen and could have covered it. It was good to show Castillo that he could do it.”
The Phillies, who lead the National League East Division, have lost three straight games for the first time since June 24-26. They opened the series with a 9-4 win on Thursday before scoring just six runs over the next three games.
“You have to give some credit to a good, young, hungry baseball team and the job Jim Riggleman is doing,” Philadelphia manager Game Kapler said about the Reds. “
The Reds, the Central Division cellar-dwellers, finished their season-high 10-game home stand 5-5 after starting 1-4.
David Hernandez allowed a hit with three strikeouts in the eighth. The Phillies loaded the bases in the ninth with two bloop hits off Wandy Peralta and a single off Raisel Iglesias before he struck out Scott Kingery and Andrew Knapp for his 21st save, finishing Cincinnati’s third shutout win and Philadelphia’s seventh shutout loss of the season.
Philadelphia has lost Zach Eflin’s last three starts after winning six straight. In his second start since coming off the disabled list with a right middle finger blister, Eflin (7-3) allowed seven hits and four runs with one walk and four strikeouts in 5 1/3 innings.
“I didn’t do my job today,” Eflin said. “I had good stuff. I think I was one or two pitches from going deep into the game with just one run. I had a really good fastball. I could’ve throw more curves and changeups. I’ve got to do a better job sequencing.’
This one counts
Gennett’s homer was his first since his ninth-inning, two-run shot sent the All-Star Game to a 10th inning on July 17.
Gennett’s homer was the sixth allowed by Eflin in four July starts after giving up none in five June outings and four over five May appearances.
The Phillies needed Cesar Hernandez’s pinch-hit double in the eighth to extend their streak of consecutive games with an extra-base hit to 101, tying the 2000 team for the second-longest in franchise history.