Stop me if you’ve heard this one before: A Cincinnati Reds starting pitcher pitched his heart, body and soul out and the offense pulled a Rip Van Winkle on him.
This time it was Luis Castillo in a game with the New York Mets and it figured to be a mismatch. It was Cincinnati’s No. 1 (Castillo) against New York’s No. 5 (Jason Vargas), who had given up 12 runs in 15 2/3 innings.
While the offense snoozed, Castillo made one mistake — a first-pitch fast ball to former Cincinnati favorite Todd Frazier in the seventh inning and Frazier gleefully planted it into the left field seats.
The home run broke a tie game and although the Reds staged an improbable ninth-inning rally, scoring two runs with no outs and nobody on to tie the game, they lost it in 10 innings, 4-3.
That ninth inning splurge was the sum total of Cincinnati’s offense.
Closer Raisel Iglesias, who pitched two innings Monday and threw 28 pitches, came in to pitch the 10th. He gave up a leadoff double to J.D. Davis, a single to Jeff McNeill, his fourth hit of the ninth, and a game-ending sacrifice fly to deep right by Pete Alonso to end it.
Castillo pitched 6 2/3 innings and gave up two runs, five hits, walked three and struck out seven. His reward? A no-decision. At least it wasn’t a loss on his record.
Vargas held the Reds scoreless for 5 1/3 innings until he gave up a home run to Eugenio Suarez in the sixth and was taken down. His line was glossy: 5 1/3 innings, one run, three hits, three walks, five strikeouts.
The Mets played old-school baseball to score their first run off Castillo in the third inning. Two bunts manufactured a run.
Amed Rosario began the inning with a single to right field. Vargas bunted to put a runner on second base and Castillo unleashed a wild pitch to move the runner to third with two outs.
The Reds put a deep shift on Jeff O’Neill and he tried to drag a bunt up the first base line and fouled it. The Reds figured he certainly would not try it again and they were certainly wrong.
O’Neill dragged a bunt up the first base line again and slid head first into first base for a single as the runner scored from third for a 1-0 lead.
Suarez’s homer tied it until Frazier came to bat leading off the seventh and ambushed Castilo’s first pitch for a home run, only the second home run this season off Castillo.
The Mets added a run in the eighth against the Reds bullpen with a double by McNeill (his third hit) off Robert Stephenson and a two-out single by Michael Conforto off Amir Garrett.
The Reds frittered away all offensive chances until the ninth inning.
—Joey Votto doubled with one out in the first but Suarez struck out and Yasiel Puig lined to short.
—Phillip Ervin singled with one out in the second, but Jesse Winker struck out into a double play when Ervin tried to steal second.
—Jose Peraza walked and stole second in the third but Votto took a called third strike to end the inning.
—The Reds drew two walks in the fourth and had runners on third and second, but Winker grounded out to second.
—Votto led the eighth with a single. Suarez lifted a routine fly ball to center field and, strangely, Votto ran to second base, non-stop, and was doubled off first.
—The ninth? Mets closer Edwin Diaz had pitched three straight games and was unavailable. So the Mets sent former closer Jeurys Familia to protect the 3-1 lead. And he struck out the first two, pinch-hitters Tucker Barnhart and Derek Dietrich.
Two outs, nobody on, 3-1 Mets lead.
Familia walked Jesse Winker. Jose Iglesias singled. Pinch-hitter Kyle Farmer singled for a run (3-2). Jose Peraza singled (3-3). Daniel Zamora replaced Familia and walked Joey Votto to fill the bases.
Drew Gagnon replaced Zamora and struck out Suarez.
The Reds put two on base in the top of the 10th on a hit-by-pitch and a walk but Jose Iglesias popped out.
The Reds stranded 11 runners and were 2 for 8 with runners in scoring position and they have scored three runs or less in 16 of their 29 games (12-17).
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