SAN DIEGO (AP) — Cincinnati Reds pitcher Luis Castillo wasn’t sharp, but it was hard to tell.
“It’s a pretty nice luxury when you don’t have you best stuff and you strike out nine and walk one,” Reds catcher Tucker Barnhart said.
Castillo matched a season high with nine strikeouts and Jesse Winker added a pinch-hit homer as Cincinnati beat San Diego 4-2 Saturday and extended the Padres’ losing streak to six games.
“He did a great job of making pitches when he needed to,” Reds manager David Bell said. “I think there is no limit to how good he can be. He is just getting better.”
The Reds won their third straight after arriving in San Diego mired in a four-game losing streak.
Castillo (2-1) pitched six innings and was charged with one run, four hits and a walk while lowering his ERA to 1.47. After Eric Hosmer (three hits, two RBIs) homered in the second inning, only one other Padres player reached scoring position.
Castillo battled with his fastball command the first couple of innings, falling behind batters but never really falling out of sorts. When he found his aim, the Padres couldn’t counter.
“I made some adjustments,” Castillo said through a translator. “Even without your best stuff you have to go out there and compete.”
Added Padres manager Andy Green: “You’ve got to give him some credit. That fastball was moving a mile and that change-up has real depth and a bottom to it.”
Raisel Iglesias got the last three outs for his fourth save, striking out the side. It gave him nine straight strikeouts in his last three outings.
“He has the velocity and the slider,” Bell said. “It’s all there.”
Rookie Fernando Tatis Jr. had his first career triple to lead off the eighth inning, extending his hitting streak to nine games. Manny Machado walked and Hosmer drove in Tatis, cutting the deficit to 4-2. Wil Myers grounded out to end the inning.
Eric Lauer (2-3) pitched five innings, giving up three runs and six hits, with two walks. Lauer struck out five and lost for the third time in four starts.
“I think I’m just sometimes running into a little bad luck,” Lauer said. “But you’ve got to create your own luck at some point.”
Winker’s fourth career pinch-hit homer in the seventh inning gave the Reds a 4-1 lead. Winker leads the Reds with six home runs.
Lauer led the majors last season with 10 pickoffs. But when he tried to catch Eugenio Suarez, who walked to start the fifth inning, his erratic throw produced a two-base error. Yasiel Puig then drove in Suarez with a sacrifice fly for 3-1 advantage.
In the fourth inning, Scott Schebler and Kyle Farmer reached on hits and Tucker Barnhart had an RBI single to give the Reds as 2-1 lead.
Hosmer tied the game at 1 in the second with his second homer of the season.
The Reds struck in the first when Jose Peraza, who batted leadoff for the first time and ended a career-worst 0-for-24 streak with a single, scored on a single by Jose Iglesias.
While the Reds have found their grove the struggling Padres (11-11) reached the break-even mark and that has erased a promising start.
“It’s a weird way to get to .500 to start the season,” Green said. “It’s baseball.”
Reds: 1B Joey Votto (back) was out of the lineup, but expected to play in Sunday’s series finale.
Reds: RHP Tyler Mahle (0-1, 2.65), who’s been among the top rookie pitchers this season, is scheduled to make his fourth start.
Padres: LHP Joey Lucchesi (2-2, 4.40) is expected to start. He is looking to snap a two-game losing streak.