CINCINNATI (AP) — Eugenio Suárez hit a two-run homer, Luis Castillo won his fourth straight start, and the streaking Cincinnati Reds moved above .500 for the first time since opening day, beating the Milwaukee Brewers 6-3 Monday night.
The Reds (28-27) won for the eighth time in nine games, a season-best surge that’s put them back in playoff contention. They opened the day a game behind St. Louis for second place in the NL Central.
The Reds are coming off six losing seasons and haven’t been to the playoffs since 2013. They spent $156 million in the offseason — one of the majors’ biggest splurges — to try to reverse course.
The Brewers (26-27) had their season-high four-game winning streak snapped, wasting a chance to move above .500 for the first time this season. They’ve reached break-even seven times.
Milwaukee reached the playoffs each of the last two seasons with hot Septembers, including a 7-1 win at Great American Ball Park last Sept. 25 that clinched a wild card. The Brewers couldn’t keep it going in their return.
Suárez connected in the sixth inning off Brandon Woodruff (2-5), who had repeatedly escaped threats. Suarez fell behind 0-2 in the count, barely fouled off a pitch, then hit his 14th homer off a fastball. Woodruff fanned nine in 5 2/3 innings.
Castillo (4-5) has gotten back into form as the shortened season has gone along, allowing a total of three earned runs while winning his last four starts. He gave up four hits and fanned nine in 6 2/3 innings.
Jedd Gyorko homered off one of Castillo’s few mistakes, connecting on a hanging, 0-2 slider in the fifth inning. Castillo dropped his head in disgust as soon as Gyorko made contact.
Amir Garrett relieved Castillo in the seventh inning with runners on second and third and retired pinch-hitter Tyrone Taylor on a grounder to preserve the 2-1 lead. Jace Peterson hit a two-run homer in the ninth off Nate Jones.
After the three-game series in Cincinnati, the Brewers finish with five games in four days at St. Louis, including a “home” game as part of a doubleheader Friday. The Reds have a day off Thursday followed by a three-game series in Minnesota.
Brewers: C Manny Piña won’t start baseball activities until next week as he recovers from an injured right knee.
Reds: RH Sonny Gray (5-3) will come off the injured list and start the second game of the series. Gray hasn’t appeared in a game since Sept. 10 because of a strained back.
Brewers: LH Brett Anderson (3-3) makes his second start since he was scratched because of tightness in his hip. He’s 1-1 with a 3.72 ERA in two starts against the Reds this season.
Reds: Gray’s back issues limited him to a total of four innings in his last two starts with 11 earned runs allowed.