By HAL McCOY
On paper, the baseball game Sunday afternoon in Sun Trust Park should have been a pleasure cruise for the Cincinnati Reds.
Baseball, though, is not played on paper, it is played on God’s green grass by human beings and anything can happen.
The Atlanta Braves sent left hander Sean Newcomb to the mound with a 1-and-7 record and a 4,75 earned run average.
The Reds sent right hander Luis Castillo to mound and though his record was 2-and-5, he has been the team’s best pitcher since the All-Star break.
AND THE REDS HAD WON the first two games of this series and they were averaging seven runs a game during the first nine games of this trip.
As expected, Newcomb gave up five hits, five walks and hit a batter in five innings. How many runs? None.
And after it mercifully concluded, the Braves owned an 8-1 win.
CASTILLO PITCHED ONLY FOUR innings and because the Braves fouled off pitch after pitch after pitch, his pitch count mounted and after four he had 90 pitches.
His only misstep came in the third after he retired the first two Braves. He then was touched for an infield hit by Brandon Phillips, a single by Freddie Freeman and a two-run double by Nick Markakis.
Castillo gave up two runs, four hits, two walks and struck out eight, but the heat and the pitch-count cut his day short.
Then it totally exploded on the Reds when Drew Storen replaced Castillo in the fifth and gave up six runs, including a grand slam by catcher Tyler Flowers.
Grand slam? The Reds pitching staff is infected by them. They’ve given up nine grand slams this season, a club record.
FORMER REDS SECOND BASEMAN Brandon Phillips started this rally, too, with a first-pitch single off Storen. Phillips singled again in the fifth and had three hits. For the series Phillips was 8 for 16. And he made a half dozen superlative defensive plays at third base, his new position with the Braves.
The Reds had the bases loaded with one out in the third inning, but Joey Votto lined to second and Adam Duvall grounded to the pitcher.
They had runners on third and second with two outs in the fourth, but Castillo grounded out.
They loaded the bases with two outs in the fifth, but Newcomb retired Scooter Gennett, who hit a grand slam Saturday night, in a first-pitch fly ball to center.
IN THE FIVE INNINGS AGAINST Newcomb, the Reds stranded nine runners without scoring a run. They stranded 13 for the game.
Tim Adleman rescued Storen in the fifth and pitched 3 1/3 innings and gave up no runs, one hit and one walk.
After Newcomb left, relief pitcher Matt Wisler held the Reds to one hit and one walk over three innings Left hander Max Fried finished off the rout in the ninth, giving up a two-out single to Jose Peraza and a run-scoring single to Phillip Ervin that spoiled the shutout.
The Reds collected only eight hits, just one for extra bases, a double by Scott Schebler.
The Reds finished the trip 5-and-5 and after an off day Monday, they open a three-game series Tuesday night in Great American Ball Park against the Chicago Cubs.