In a three-day span, Trevor Bauer and Luis Castillo, who might be expected to duel for the role of Cincinnati Reds ace in 2020, delivered their worst performances of the season.
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That's how the 2019 season has gone for the Reds. Their pitching carried them in the spring, while their hitting lagged behind. The hitters caught up, only to have the relievers fall apart. The starting pitching has been a strength all season but not this week.
Bauer gave up nine earned runs in 4 1/3 innings Wednesday in a 17-7 loss on the road to the Washington Nationals. Castillo also lasted 4 1/3 innings and gave up eight earned runs Friday in a 13-4 loss to the St. Louis Cardinals at Great American Ball Park.
"It's a long season," Castillo said. "You have to work hard. Not every outing is going to go the way you want them to go. I think my pitches today were not 100 percent. But it's part of the game. I'm just going to go out there and keep working as hard as I can work."
Castillo (11-5, 3.10) gave up a two-out RBI double to Marcell Ozuna in the first. An inning later, Paul Goldschmidt hit a three-run home run with two outs.
In the third, Paul DeJong hit a two-run home run. Goldschmidt added a two-run home run in the fifth, at which point David Bell replaced Castillo with reliever Matt Bowman, who allowed three earned runs in 1 2/3 innings.
Castillo fell to 0-3 against the Cardinals in five starts in the last three seasons at Great American Ball Park.
"We know they have good hitters," Reds manager David Bell said. "With Luis out there, we felt good. Everybody's going to have a night like that. He's been pitching so well. It looked to me like he was missing over the middle of the plate a little bit, and they were ready for it."
The Cardinals (64-56) evened the four-game series 1-1 and stretched their lead over the Reds in the National League Central Division to 7½ games.
The Reds trailed 12-0 before they got on the board with three runs in the sixth. Aristides Aquino hit a two-run home run, his 10th in 15 games.
NOTES: Joey Votto was sidelined for the second straight game with lower back tightness. Jesse Winker also missed the game with back tightness. … Reds third baseman Eugenio Suarez left the game with a left thumb sprain. X-rays were negative. … Joel Kuhnel made his big-league debut in the seventh and allowed one run on two hits. … Infielder Jose Peraza made his second career appearance on the mound in the ninth and pitched a scoreless inning.