CINCINNATI (AP) — Reds rookie Luis Castillo delivered another strong outing that helped slow the Milwaukee Brewers’ postseason push.
Castillo struck out 10 in his final start of a fine season, Zack Cozart and Jose Peraza homered and last-place Cincinnati completed a three-game sweep of the Brewers with a 7-1 win on Wednesday.
“He was extremely dominant,” Reds manager Bryan Price said. “He limited their ability to get the barrel of the bat on the ball.”
The playoff-contending Brewers have lost four of five. Neil Walker’s homer in the first inning was all they could muster.
The Reds lost major league stolen base leader Billy Hamilton to a broken left thumb. The outfielder was hurt trying to bunt in the first inning, exited in the third and was put on the 10-day disabled list.
Castillo (3-7) retired 11 straight batters in one stretch and 22 of the last 24 while pitching eight innings. He allowed four hits, didn’t walk anybody and wound up with a 3.12 ERA in 15 starts.
“I was trying to compete,” Castillo said through a translator. “I had a really good feel for my pitches. I feel really, really good about having a great year. I’m going to go back to the Dominican (after the season) and work hard for next season. I feel really happy.”
The Reds starters in the three-game series combined to allow just five earned runs in 20 innings, a sparkling 2.25 earned-run average that was less than half the major league-worst 5.73 mark Cincinnati’s rotation took into the game.
“We lost three games,” Milwaukee manager Craig Counsell said. “They outplayed us. We didn’t have a good series. Today, we ran into a good pitching performance. We didn’t get anything going against their starting pitching.”
Counsell didn’t believe the Brewers were looking ahead to the three-game weekend series against the NL Central-leading Cubs that starts on Friday in Chicago.
“We didn’t play a good series,” he said. “We had good energy every day before the games. It’s something I was aware of. We’ve struggled holding this team down offensively. We knew going in that they could score some runs.”
The Reds are shutting down Castillo, who started the season with Double-A Pensacola, to limit his innings. The 24-year-old righty threw 111 pitches, matching his second-highest pitch count of the season, in this start.
“He has good stuff, of course,” Price said. “We knew that. He’s a tough kid who has tremendous confidence. How many guys can come up from Double-A and do what he’s done? He is only 3-7, but he kept us in every game and that’s important.”
“I don’t know exactly what we will do with Luis the rest of the year. We have to get together and see what he will do. I never say never, but it is unlikely that he will pitch out of the bullpen. I don’t think you will see him on the mound the rest of the year,” he said.
Matt Garza (6-9) gave up five runs in 2 2/3 innings. He is 0-3 in his last four starts.
“I don’t know what to say,” Garza said. “I thought I threw the ball better than the results indicated. I felt great. My stuff was fine. They found some holes.”
The Reds chased Garza with a five-run third that included Walker’s error at first base on a potential inning-ending double-play grounder. Adam Duvall and Jose Peraza each drove in a run during the inning.
“Matt just had some bad luck,” Counsell said. “I don’t think he had too many pitches he wished he had back. They had some jam shots and the double play we couldn’t turn. I thought he pitched OK, I really did.”
Cozart led off the seventh with his 18th homer of the season. Peraza added his fifth in the eighth.
The Reds recalled right-hander Luke Farrell from Triple-A Louisville on Wednesday, creating the possibility that he could pitch against the Red Sox team managed by his father John when Boston comes to town for a three-game series starting on Sept. 22.
LHP Amir Garrett will start on Friday against the Mets in New York in place of RHP Sal Romano, who is being pushed back to Sunday to give a cut on his right index finger time to heal.
Brewers: RHP Jimmy Nelson (11-6), with no-decisions in two starts against the Cubs this season, is set to open the series at Wrigley Field.
Reds: Cincinnati will try to snap a six-game losing streak at New York’s Citi Field on Thursday in the first game of a four-game series against the Mets. The Reds haven’t won there since April 6, 2014.