McCoy: Castillo continues to struggle as Reds continue to slide

Reds fall to a season-worst six games under .500

A few hours before Luis Castillo trudged up the Wrigley Field mound Saturday afternoon to face the Chicago Cubs, Cincinnati Reds manager David Bell said, “He knows it’s a big start. He is looking forward to it.”

The big start was another big flop and Castillo’s record crashed to 1-8 when the Cubs walked all over him, 10-2.

And it was a walkover.

After the Reds used three walks in the sixth inning to tie the game 2-2, Castillo walked the first two batters in the bottom of the sixth and his work day was over.

Amir Garrett walked two more in the inning. All four walks came around to score in the deciding inning.

It was Chicago’s fifth straight win and eighth in nine games, while the Reds lost for the seventh time in nine games and toppled to a season’s worst six games under .500.

Castillo’s work sheet was: five innings, four runs, two earned, four hits, four walks, three strikeouts. His ERA is a stratospheric 7.22, and eight unearned runs are next to his name, the most for any pitcher in the National League.

Castillo breezed through his problematic first inning, surviving a one-out walk. He has mentioned running into some misfortunes in his outings and it certainly manifested in the second inning which was a defensive disaster. The Cubs hit only one ball out of the infield, but scored two unearned runs.

It began with a solid single to right by Willson Contreras. Rafael Ortega bunted him to second. David Bote grounded to shortstop and Contreras was caught between third and second.

But shortstop Eugenio Suarez threw the ball over third baseman Max Schrock’s head and everybody was safe. Eric Sogard beat a slow roller to shortstop as a run scored.

Another run scored when pitcher Zach Davies bunted hard toward first. Second baseman Jonathan India was late covering first and Davies beat Alex Blandino’s throw as the run scored. The Cubs led 2-0.

The Reds threatened in the fourth when Suarez opened with a single and Nick Castellanos drew a one-out walk. Tyler Naquin took a called third strike, and Tyler Stephenson lined to left.

India reached second with one out in the fifth when right fielder Rafael Ortega dropped India’s fly ball near the wall. India took third on Castillo’s ground ball and stayed there when Blandino grounded to second.

At that point, the Reds had amassed 18 innings without a run and were 0-for-11 with runners in scoring position the last two games, counting Friday’s 1-0 defeat.

Castillo escaped more damage in the Cubs fourth after he walked Ortega and hit Bote with a pitch, putting runners on second and first with no outs.

Sogard grounded to second and first baseman Blandino forced Bote at second and Sogard was ruled safe at first.

Then a lot happened. Bote was writhing on the ground with a shoulder injury and was helped off the field. To add insult to his injury, replay revealed that Bote enacted sliding interference and Sogard was ruled out at first — a late-developing double play.

Two streaks ended in the sixth when the Reds scored two runs to tie it 2-2.

Cincinnati’s streak of 18 innings without a run ended, and Chicago’s streak of 38 scoreless innings by its bullpen ended.

The inning opened when Davies walked Suarez. Amazingly, Cubs manager David Ross quickly went to his bullpen. Left hander Rex Thompson walked Jess Winker on four pitches. Thompson struck out Castellanos but walked pinch-hitter Scott Heineman to fill the bases, all on walks.

Ross reacted again, bringing in Keegan Thompson to face Tyler Stepehenson. He dropped a two-run double down the right field line, ending a 1-for-17 slide with a two-run double.

The Reds had runners on third and second with one out. Schrock popped to shallow left, and India struck out, leaving it a 2-2.

Castillo, though, didn’t pay attention to what happened to the Cubs in the top of the sixth with all those walks. Castillo walked both Ian Happ and Willson Contreras to open the bottom of the sixth. Castillo’s day was done. He was replaced by Amir Garrett.

The Reds quickly caught a break. Garrett hit Ortega on the wrist, but umpire Dan Bellino ruled it was a foul ball. And foul balls are not reviewable and Ortega popped fouled a two-strike bunt for a strikeout.

Garrett did not heed what he saw the Cubs and Castillo do. He walked the next two, forcing in a run.

Patrick Wisdom swung and missed two sliders in the dirt, and Garrett had him 0-and-2. He threw four more sliders out of the strike zone and Wisdom didn’t swing, taking a walk to fill the bases.

He also went to 3-and-2 on Sogard, a brother to Wright State University baseball coach Alex Sogard, and walked him, forcing in the go-ahead run for a 3-2 lead.

Tejay Antone was summoned to stop the nonsense. He didn’t. He struck out pinch-hitter Nick Martini for the second out, but Joc Pederson drilled a two-strike, two-run single to right field, the first hit of the inning.

Kris Bryant followed with a single to left for another run and a 6-2 lead — all four runs that scored in the inning reached base on walks.

The Cubs didn’t need a walk to score their seventh run. Ortega torched Ryan Hendrix with a two-out home run to right field in the seventh. And just for giggles, the Cubs ripped into relief pitcher Michael Feliz for three runs on five straight singles to push the total to 10-2

The Reds scraped together only five hits, and one was an eighth-inning double by Castellanos that extended his hitting streak to 15 games.