Sick and tired of losing to the Cincinnati Reds, Gerrit Cole took matters into his own hands Saturday.
The Pittsburgh right-hander went into his 10th career start against Cincinnati 0-6 with a 5.14 ERA, and the Pirates had lost all nine of his previous appearances.
Cole, who was 7-0 in his last eight road starts this season, hit Luis Castillo’s first pitch of the sixth inning into the left field seats for his third career home run to snap a scoreless tie and give the Pirates a 1-0 win.
The last time the Reds lost 1-0 on a home run by an opposing pitcher was June 17, 1983, when Bob Welch connected off Mario Soto at Dodger Stadium.
The shutout loss was Cincinnati’s fourth of the season, third at home. The 1-0 outcome was the 21st in the 15-year history of Great American Ball Park and the first this season. The Reds are 12-9 in those games.
The postgame concert attraction — The Avett Brothers, a folk-rock group — probably has more hits than the Reds and Pirates teamed up to produce.
“That really was a sensational game, with the caveat that we didn’t win,” manager Bryan Price said. “Cole was excellent. He was really sharp and used the ball-strike ratio to his advantage. He did a nice job. Luis was up to the challenge. He held them to one run and gave us another opportunity to win. He gives us a chance to win every time he takes the mound. It’d be nice to get him a victory.”
Castillo (2-7) likely is glad to see his frustrating August end. The rookie right-hander went into Saturday’s game 0-2 with a 3.22 ERA in four August starts. He’d allowed 15 hits and eight earned runs with 12 walks and 23 strikeouts in 22 1/3 innings.
Adding insult to injury, the Reds won both starts in which he left with no decision, but Castillo wasn’t letting the frustration get to him, pointing out that Hall of Fame pitcher Pedro Martinez started his career 2-7.
“I don’t feel frustrated,” he said. “I know if I continue to go out there and do the job, I’ll win some games. Sometimes, you win. Sometimes, you lose. Today, I felt really good on the mound.”
Castillo tied his career high with nine strikeouts while allowing three hits and one walk in seven innings. The Pirates got four balls out of the infield while he was on the mound, including Cole’s first homer of the season. The RBI was his third in 28 games. He was hitting .136 (6-for-44).
“I made a mental mistake,” Castillo said. “He was leading off and I threw a fastball right down the middle and he hit it out of the park.”
Cole (11-8) kept Cincinnati in check, allowing five hits and striking out six in seven innings. One runner reached third base, and Scooter Gennett’s single to lead off the seventh was offset by Eugenio Suarez’s double-play grounder.
Closer Felipe Rivero struck out the side in the ninth — including Joey Votto and Adam Duvall looking — for his 15th save,
Suarez finished 0-for-3 to snap his hitting streak at a career-high 10 games and his streak of reaching base at least once at a career-high 16 games. Votto’s on-base streak was stopped at a season-high 29 games.
Andrew McCutchen went 0-for-4 to see his streak of starts against Cincinnati in which he reached base at least once stopped at 34.
Cole improved to 8-0 in his last nine road starts, the longest road winning streak by a Pirates pitcher since Don Robinson won eight straight in 1982.
Josh Bell’s fourth-inning, two-out double into the right-field corner was Pittsburgh’s first hit off Castillo, but left fielder Duvall kept the game scoreless by throwing out Bell trying to score from second on David Freese’s single. The assist was Duvall’s major league-best 13th, the most by a Reds outfielder since Paul Householder piled up 14 in 1982.
The single-season franchise record for outfield assists is 39, set by right fielder Mike Mitchell for the 1939 National League champions.