Cincinnati Reds: Suarez grand slam holds up in 5-4 win over Pirates

The Reds waited on Wednesday night until they were losing to Pittsburgh, 4-0, before starting to swing their bats. They eventually came back to tie the score before running out of steam, opening the door for the Pirates to pull out a 12-inning, 5-4 win.

They found in Thursday’s series finale that taking the initiative works better. Eugenio Suarez hit a grand slam and Jesse Winker added a solo shot, both off Ivan Nova, to back a fourth straight strong start by Luis Castillo and lift Cincinnati a 5-4 win in the rubber match of the three-game series.

»RELATED: Third time the charm for Reds reliever

»RELATED: Harvey, Scooter give Reds interesting options

The Reds, now 18-33 overall after going 1-3 against the Cubs and 2-1 against Pittsburgh on the seven-game home stand, left town after the game for a 10-day, nine-game road trip to Colorado, Arizona and San Diego with a day off next Thursday in San Diego.

“That was a good win against a good ballclub,” interim manager Jim Riggleman said. “When the Cubs came in, they were playing good. The Pirates had lost a few in a row when they came in and they were hungry. They were really tough. That we were able to win with a few guys out was big.”

Castillo, who’d allowed a total of just 13 hits in 16 2/3 innings over three starts after giving up a career-high nine in six innings on May 2, gave up just four hits in six innings. The right-hander, 3-0 with a no-decision on a blown save in his last four starts and 4-4 overall, didn’t allow a run until David Freese launched a two-run drive into the upper deck in left field on the 85thpitch of the game with one out in the sixth inning.

Castillo used his full array of pitches to keep the Pirates off balance.

“Like always, my command and making all my pitches,” he said. “Usually, my four-seamer is working, but my two-seamer and slider were working really well today, too.

“He’s getting closer,” Riggleman said. “We want him to be a seven inning-plus guy and he’s not there yet, but with his repertoire, he’s a tough challenge for the hitters in this league.”

Amir Garrett was in line for his first professional save before Austin Meadows lined a two-run homer into the right field seats with one out in the ninth inning. Jared Hughes came for the final two outs and his second save of the season.

Castillo, acquired by the Reds in the January 2017 trade of Dan Straily to the Marlins, also helped spark Cincinnati’s third-inning rally. He opened the inning by coaxing a leadoff walk from Nova, the first walk issued by the Pittsburgh right-hander in his last three starts. Winker singled to right, and after Jose Peraza popped up a bunt to Nova, Scooter Gennett hit a chopper up the first base line that Nova fielded but overthrew first baseman David Freese for a bases-loading error.

Unlike Wednesday night, when rookie Brandon Dixon was ruled out on batter’s interference for running inside the baseline, a ruling that cost the Reds runners on first and third with nobody out in the 11thinning, there were no issues with Gennett’s trip up the line.

That set the stage for Suarez’s third career grand slam and Cincinnati’s second of the series and the season, a high-arcing drive halfway up the first full section of seats down the left field line. Gennett hit his sixth career grand slam and fifth in two seasons with the Reds in their 7-2 win on Tuesday.

Suarez moved into a tie with Chicago’s Javier Baez for the National League lead in runs batted in with 38.

“I always try to help the team in that situation,” said the third baseman and former Detroit Tiger, who missed 16 games in April with a fractured thumb sustained when he was hit by a pitch in Pittsburgh. “If there’s a guy on third and less than two outs, I’ll at least try to get a sacrifice fly. I just try to put a good swing on it and not try to do too much.”

“You look at most guys when they hit home runs, they usually have nice, easy swings, but they square it up and the ball jumps off their bat,” Riggleman said. “He’s been really clutch for us.”

Winker, who hit seven homers in 47 games last season, hit his first in his 45thgame to lead off the fifth inning, upping Cincinnati’s lead to 5-0. His opposite-field drive landed on the netting over what now is the visitors’ bullpen in left-center field.

Joey Votto, mired in a 5-for-27 slump, didn’t start, but he walked as a pinch-hitter in the sixth to reach 1,480 games with the Reds, tying another left-handed hitting first baseman, Dan Driessen, for ninth on the franchise career games played list. Frank Robinson is eighth with 1,502 games.

Catcher Tucker Barnhart also got the day off.

Dixon, promoted from Triple-A Louisville on Tuesday, got his first three career hits – including a double – in his first career start in place of Votto at first base. All three players the Reds received from the Dodgers in the three-way deal that sent Todd Frazier to the White Sox after the 2015 season – Dixon, Peraza and outfielder Scott Schebler – were in Cincinnati’s starting lineup.


Reds at Rockies, 8:40 p.m., FS Ohio, 700, 1410

About the Author