Eugenio Suarez launched his eighth home run of the season with the bases loaded and Luis Castillo stifled the Pittsburgh Pirates as the Reds won the series with a 5-4 win.
Ivan Nova and Castillo were locked in a scoreless battle when Nova committed the cardinal sin of walking Castillo, the opposing pitcher to lead off the third inning. Jesse Winker drilled a single through the open hole between first and second. Jose Peraza popped up his bunt attempt. Scooter Gennett, who had driven home seven runs in the first two games, hit a slow roller that Nova fielded but threw wild to first base to fill the bases. Suarez hit his third career grand slam on a 2-2 pitch.
"I just tried to bring in the closest guy. I was trying to drive in one run. God blessed me with four and I'll take it," said Suarez, who is now tied with Javier Baez for the National League lead with 38 RBI. He is also tied for the NL lead with four sacrifice flies.
While Castillo was throwing blanks at the Pirates, allowing three singles and a walk through five innings.
The right-hander lost the strike zone in the sixth inning. He retired Josh Harrison on a pop to Suarez but walked Adam Frazier. When Castillo fell behind 3-0 to David Freese, new pitching coach Danny Darwin came out to talk to the pitcher.
Castillo threw one strike but Freese hit a 3-1 pitch into the upper deck.
Castillo finished with six innings for the third time this month. He allowed 25 earned runs in April in 28 2/3 innings for a 7.85 ERA. In his fifth start in May, Castillo has also pitched 28 2/3 innings but has only allowed nine earned runs for a 2.82 ERA. The Reds have won the last four and he is personally 3-1 in May.
"I made and adjustment and worked hard," Castillo said.
"He is getting closer," Reds' manager Jim Riggleman said. "We want to be a seven inning plus pitcher. He's not there yet."
The home run by Freese signaled the end for Castillo.
"I wasn't tired but he is a big league hitter," Castillo said through translator Julio Murillo. "I made a mistake and he did what he was supposed to do with a mistake."
David Hernandez contributed 2/3 of an inning, allowing a lead off double to Austin Meadows to start the seventh but struck out Elias Diaz and got Sean Rodriguez to fly out. Amir Garrett came in to strike out pinch hitter Josh Bell.
Garrett began the ninth in quest of his first career save. Corey Dickerson reached on an infield single. Garrett struck out pinch hitter Jose Osuna but Austin Meadows hit his third home run to cut the lead to one.
Jared Hughes was assigned to get the final two outs for his second save of the season. The Reds got the second out when Hughes deflected a ground ball to Gennett, who barely got Diaz on the throw to Dixon, who had to stretch. The call was upheld under video review.
"I can not believe we got an out on that play," Riggleman said. "That ball, when I saw the angle that Scooter was going to have to go to, I kind of starting looking at my card, ok where's Polanco? I know that he's coming. All of a sudden I see the stretch. That was some play."
Brandon Dixon had three hits, including a double and finished the game hitting, .375.
"It felt great. It was a little bit of a relief after the first few nights," Dixon said. "It was an awesome experience. That was a close play on Diaz. That was my first experience with the replay, too."
Joey Votto walked as a pinch hitter in the sixth inning to tie Dan Driessen for ninth on the Reds' all time list for games played with 1,480.