CINCINNATI — Sitting on the top of the dugout bench pregame, Athletics manager Bob Melvin looked over Great American Ball Park and figured it was a perfect stop for his struggling team.
“Given the way we've been struggling on offense, I want them to think, 'Yeah, this is a good place to hit,”' Melvin said.
So much for that idea. Even in one of the most hitter-friendly places, the A's can't do much of anything these days.
Jay Bruce homered and made a run-saving catch on the warning track, and Mat Latos pitched into the eighth inning against Oakland's slumping lineup on Tuesday night, leading the Cincinnati Reds to a 3-1 victory.
The Reds had dropped seven of nine and were coming off what players called an embarrassing weekend against St. Louis — losses of 13-3 and 15-2.
They found an American League team struggling even more. The West-leading Athletics have lost five of six, getting shut out twice during that span. It was nearly three — Derek Norris hit a two-out homer in the ninth off Aroldis Chapman that ended Oakland's streak of 18 innings without a run.
“You've just got to play your way through it, fight your way through it, have better at-bats, get grittier, find a way to get the guy home,” Melvin said. “We're not swinging our bats, there's no doubt about that.
“You go through these periods, yet you try to minimize them so they don't go on too long.”
Latos (11-3) allowed four hits through 7 1-3 shutout innings, leaving him 3-0 in his last four starts. Chapman gave up his sixth homer of the season while getting his 26th save in 30 chances.
Bruce hit his 23rd homer off Dan Straily (6-6), who has lost all of his four starts since being called back up from the minors. The right fielder also went a long way to run down Josh Reddick's fly ball to the warning track in the fourth, saving a run.
Melvin decided to hit for Straily in the fifth inning after catcher Stephen Vogt led off with a single. The A's trailed 2-0 and Straily had thrown 75 pitches already.