By HAL McCOY
On a rainy night in Pittsburgh, it rained runs and hits on the heads of the Cincinnati Reds. The Pittsburgh Pirates scored six runs in the sixth inning and four runs in the seventh inning en route to drowning the Reds, 14-3, Friday night in PNC Park.
Thus the moribund Reds have lost five of their first six games in what is looking more and more like a long, long, long season.
The manual on young Reds pitcher Luis Castillo is that he possesses a strong arm and wonderful stuff, but he lacks what real estate agents talk about most: location, location, location.
It certainly was on display Friday when Castillo was throwing 97 miles an hour fast balls and 83 miles an hour change-ups.
But he had no semblance of a clue where those pitches were going.
Incredibly, he faced 24 batters and went to 3-and-2 counts 11 times. While he walked only three of those 11, his pitch count mounted early. Throughout this game Castillo nibbled at the strike zone like a parrot nibbling a cracker.
Amazingly, manager Bryan Price permitted him to throw 107 pitches in Castillo’s second start of the season, a 107-pitch outing that lasted only five innings.
Still, when he left, the Reds trailed the Pirates by only two runs.
That’s when Price brought in Yovani Gallardo, a pitcher the Milwaukee Brewers released at the end of spring training and the Reds signed just before Opening Day.
Reds scouts said they liked his stuff and that he would fit into the bullpen as a veteran presence.
In his first appearance Saturday for the Reds he gave up three runs in one inning. It was much worse Friday.
Trying to keep it close, Gallardo turned it into a Pittsburgh pummeling. He faced seven batters and six reached base. He gave up six runs on four hits and two walks, turning a 4-2 Reds deficit into a 10-2 see-you-later.
Castillo faced the Washington Nationals last Saturday and gave up six runs and six hits in five innings. So far after two starts, Castillo’s earned run average 9.00.
The Pirates, off to a 6-and-1 start, scored two runs in the second inning on three doubles — Corey Dickerson, Colin Moran and Jordy Mercer.
Moran finished the night with four hits, three RBI and three runs scored. Dickerson finished the night with three hits, two RBI and two runs scored. Mercer finished the night with three hits, an RBI and a run scored.
The Reds tied it, 2-2, in the third when Castillo doubled, Billy Hamilton walked, Jesse Winker singled for a run, his first RBI this season, and Joey Votto singled for a run, his first RBI this season.
The lead lasted only until Pittsburgh returned to the dugout and picked up their bats. Castillo retired the first two in the bottom of the third, both on 3-and-2 counts.
Then he went 3-and-2 on Josh Bell and walked him. Dickerson singled and Castillo walked Francisco Cervelli on a 3-and-2 pitch to fill the bases. Moran singled to center field for two runs and a 4-2 lead.
At that point, the Reds were in the game, but missed many opportunities. Through the first six innings they stranded eight runners and were 3 for 10 with runners in scoring position.
Then came Gallardo’s batting practice session.
Moran singled and Mercer doubled. Gallardo recorded his first out — and only out. Harrison singled to make it 5-2. Gregory Polanco walked to fill the bases. Starling Marte tripled for three runs and an 8-2 lead. Josh Bell walked, ending Gallardo’s Halloween-like night.
He was replaced by Austin Brice and the carnage continued. Brice gave up a two-run double to Dickerson and it was 10-2.
Brice remained in the game for the seventh and the Pirates scored four more, pushing the absurdity to 14-2.
When it mercifully ended the Pirates had 14 runs and 15 hits — no home runs, but seven extra base hits.
The Reds? Thirteen hits, but pitcher Castillo’s double was the team’s only extra base hit.
In addition to the damage done by Dickerson, Moran and Mercer, Josh Harrison had two hits, drove in two and scored two, Gregory Polanco had two hits drove in two and scored two and Starling Marte had two hits, drove in three and scored one.
Jesse Winker, batting leadoff, had three hits, two of them infield rollers. Votto and Peraza each had two hits and pitcher Castillo had the double and a single in his two at bats, hitting much better than he pitched.
Scooter Gennett, who had at least one hit in each of the first five games, was called out on strikes to end the game and complete a 0-for-5 evening.