By HAL McCOY
The Cincinnati Reds finally quit wasting a resource they don’t normally have — knock down, shut down starting pitching.
After losing the first two games of a three-game series to the Chicago Cubs despite shutout pitching by Matt Harvey and Cody Reed, the Reds used stout and solid pitching by Luis Castillo Sunday afternoon to win one, 2-1.
Castillo went 6 2/3 innings and gave up one run, four hits, four walks and struck out two.
Two strikeouts? Yes, only two strikeouts because the Cubs came out swinging early and often so they wouldn’t face Castillo’s disappearing change-up with two strikes.
Matt Harvey pitched six scoreless innings Friday and turned a 2-0 lead over to the bullpen. David Hernandez gave up a three-run home run to Ian Happ and the Reds lost, 3-2.
Cody Reed pitched five scoreless innings Saturday and turned over a 0-0 tie to the bullpen. Sal Romano gave up a run-scoring single to Willson Contreras in the sixth and the Reds lost, 1-0.
This time the bullpen gave Castillo perfect support, especially left hander Amir Garrett, who has had his trouble lately since coming off the disable list.
Castillo took a 2-1 lead into the seventh inning but gave up back-to-back two-out singles to pinch-hitter Kris Bryant and Albert Almora Jr.
That brought up ever-dangerous Anthony Rizzo and manager Jim Riggleman decided it was time for Amir Garrett — mano y mano, game on the line.
For his career, Rizzo was 1 for 6 against Garrett and his previous three at bats went strikeout, double play, strikeout.
Add another strikeout. Garrett struck him out on four pitches in what surely was a game-deciding at bat.
Scott Schebler started the game with a first-pitch home run off Cubs starter Jose Quintana and it stood 1-0 until Phillip Ervin homered leading off the fourth inning to make it 2-0.
The Reds scored only four runs in the three-game series and all four came on solo home runs by Jose Peraza, Joey Votto, Scott Schebler and Phillip Ervin.
The Cubs nicked Castillo for their only run in the fifth when he issued a one-out walk to David Bote, a double to pinch-hitter Willson Contreras and a sacrifice fly by Albert Almora Jr.
Jared Hughes pitched a scoreless eighth, but gave up a two-out single to Daniel Murphy. Murphy, though, tried to stretch the single into a double and left fielder Phillip Ervin threw him out.
Closer Raisel Iglesias finished it in the ninth with a 1-2-3 inning, retiring Javier Baez, the league’s RBI leader who was pinch-hitting after taking a day off. Baez grounded meekly to the mound to end it for Iglesias’ 27th save, preserving Castillo’s 10th win against 12 losses.
And the Reds, believe it or not, have the National League’s best record when they hold a lead after eight innings, 54-and-1.
The Reds might have discovered something. For the first time this year, they wore their red jerseys, something they only did for weekend home games until Sunday.
After winning seven of the first 10 games they played against the Cubs this year, the Reds had lost eight straight to the Cubs before Sunday, their longest losing streak to the Cubs since the end of World War II in 1945.
Joey Votto extended his hitting streak to eight games with three hits, none of which figured in any scoring. Peraza pushed a bunt past the pitcher for a hit in the seventh inning to push his hitting streak to 11 games.
Now the Reds can help the division-leading Cubs. Their next three games, beginning Monday, are at Miller Park in Milwaukee against the Brewers.