MILWAUKEE (AP) — Nick Castellanos hit a tiebreaking two-run single off All-Star closer Josh Hader with two outs in the ninth inning, and the Cincinnati Reds beat the Milwaukee Brewers 3-1 on Sunday.
The Reds took three of four in the series to pull within four games of the NL Central-leading Brewers. The teams begin a three-game set in Cincinnati on Friday night.
The Brewers (53-39) and Reds (48-42) are the only teams in the division with winning records at the All-Star break.
Ryan Hendrix (5-1), the fourth of five Reds relievers, got two outs for the win. Josh Osich worked a perfect ninth for his first career save in his 246th appearance.
“We’re so excited that we finished like this,” Reds starting pitcher Luis Castillo said.
Reds manager David Bell applauded the effort of his team during the four-game series.
“It’s been a pleasure just to be around these guys, watching them go about their business,” Bell said.
It’s especially rewarding, Bell said, winning the final three games of the series after dropping the opener.
“That says a lot,” Bell said.
He added that the team is looking forward to returning home after the break for a rematch against the Brewers.
“We sense a real positive energy there. It’s been important for us all year,” Bell said. “Our players love playing in Cincinnati.”
Hader (3-2) came in to pitch the ninth after he surrendered a game-winning homer to Eugenio Suárez on Saturday night. He hit Suárez on Sunday, and Kyle Farmer followed with a pinch-hit single.
After a strikeout, Hader walked Jonathan India to load the bases before Castellanos laced a hit up the middle.
Brewers manager Craig Counsell said he isn’t concerned about Hader, who has pitched four of the last five days and surrendered runs for the third time in his last four outings.
“It just hasn’t gone his way the last few outings. He was perfect up until then essentially,” Counsell said. “The other team is trying to get him. There’s nothing to note. They just got him, unfortunately.”
Milwaukee starter and fellow All-Star Brandon Woodruff also offered support for his teammate.
“When you are so good, people expect you do to do crazy things every time you go out and pitch,” Woodruff said. “He’s unbelievable. He’s the best closer in the game.”
The Reds jumped in front in the first against right-hander Woodruff. Joey Votto singled in Jesse Winker, but Tyler Stephenson grounded into an inning-ending double play.
The Brewers loaded the bases against Castillo in the fourth, but Castillo struck out Woodruff to end the threat.
Milwaukee threatened again in the fifth, putting two runners on with one out. But Castillo snagged Omar Narváez’s liner and doubled Willy Adames off first.
“My heart stopped for a second,” Castillo said.
Castillo departed after issuing a one-out walk to Jace Peterson in the sixth. Amir Garrett then struck out pinch-hitter Keston Hiura, but Peterson stole second and scored on Jackie Bradley Jr.’s single to right.
Castillo allowed three hits, but he issued a career-high six walks.
Woodruff gave up a season-high nine hits in six innings. He struck out four and walked none.
Reds: Reliever Art Warren was removed with one out in the seventh while pitching to Christian Yelich. Warren sailed a pitch to the backstop during Yelich’s at-bat and left after a quick visit by a team trainer. … Farmer didn’t start for a second consecutive game as he deals with body soreness. Bell said he hopes that the rest, combined with four days off for the All-Star break, will provide adequate time for Farmer to heal. Farmer had a pinch-hit single in the ninth and remained in the game at shortstop.
Brewers: 2B Kolten Wong, who is on the 10-day IL with left calf soreness, ran the bases prior to the game.
The Brewers are in first place at the All-Star break for just the sixth time in the 51-year history of the franchise. The Brewers, who moved to Milwaukee for the 1970 season after playing one season as the Seattle Pilots, previously held down the top spot in their division in 1982, 2007, 2011, 2014 and 2017.
The Reds head into the All-Star break having played 33 games in 34 days, including games on 18 consecutive days to end the stretch.
OUT BY A FOOT
After reaching on a bloop single with two outs in the seventh, Willy Adames easily beat a throw to second on an attempted steal. After a review, Adames was ruled out as it appeared as though he slid into the foot of Reds second baseman Jonathan India and not the base.
The Reds and Brewers are in the midst of facing off in seven consecutive games. The Reds haven’t faced the same opponent seven times in a row since 1953 when they went 4-3 against the Milwaukee Braves.
The Brewers and Reds will square off again after the All-Star break in a three-game series beginning Friday in Cincinnati.