Diamondbacks hope for turnaround vs. Reds

PHOENIX — The Arizona Diamondbacks return home Monday in a tailspin that a more productive offense and some health probably could cure.

The Diamondbacks have lost 15 of 17 and dropped to .500 for the first time this season after a 2-1 loss at Oakland on Sunday.

Arizona hopes to turn it around it Monday night when it hosts the Cincinnati Reds in the opener of a three-game series.

The 2-15 stretch is tied for the second-worst in franchise history.

The Diamondbacks were 1-8 on a road trip to the Mets, Milwaukee and Oakland, scoring 18 runs in the nine games. They scored four runs and had 10 hits while being swept in Milwaukee, a franchise low for hits in a three-game set, and they scored 10 runs and had 22 hits in the season series against the Brewers, a major league record for fewest hits in a six-game season series.

“You go 1-8 on a road trip, it’s tough,” Arizona manager Torey Lovullo said in a post-game interview. “These guys care, and it bothers us because we care. But we’re coming home, and that’s always a good thing.

“I feel our guys are continuing to stay focused. This thing is going to turn, but we have to continue to ask ourselves why and improve every single day.”

Arizona right-hander Matt Koch (2-3) is set to face Reds right-hander Homer Bailey (1-6) in the first game of a three-games series.

The Diamondbacks have used 16 different lineups in the last 17 games, not counting the pitcher’s spot, in part because of injuries to A.J. Pollock and Steven Souza Jr., while scoring 33 runs. The only worst 17-game stretch came in 2004, when the 51-win team went 1-16 three different times.

It seems as if everyone slumping at once.

Five-time All-Star Paul Goldschmidt is hitting .125 with two homers and five RBIs in 24 games in May with 32 strikeouts. He has 69 strikeouts in 187 at-bats this season, well above his normal rate.

Chris Owings, one the replacements for Pollock in center field, has four hits in his last 50 at-bats. Catcher Alex Avila has two hits and 20 strikeouts in his last 35 at-bats. Third catcher John Ryan Murphy, who has three homers in the last six starts, was used as the DH and hit third in one game at Oakland.

The D-backs finish the six-game homestand with a three-game series against Miami, like Cincinnati at the bottom of is division.

“We’re respectful of every major league team,” Lovullo said. “Things can happen quickly, as we’ve seen. I know at some point this is going to break. We have to remain focused. We have to remember what our purpose is each and every day. That’s my job, to make sure these guys are ready to execute.”

Arizona had three hits and they were all singles and all in the sixth inning when it scored the only run.

“We knew it would be a challenge,” Lovullo said. “He was executing pitches and we were having trouble catching up to it.

“We’ve banked wins. We know it is a long, grinding year, and we’ve got our best baseball ahead of us.”

Cincinnati has won 11 of its last 20 and three of its last six series after getting off to a slow start that cost manager Bryan Price his job.

They are 37-28 at Chase Field, including 20-11 there the last 9 seasons.

Third baseman Eugenio Suarez has 26 RBIs in May and Joey Votto has five hits in his last 11 at-bats.

The Reds have played over .500 since Matt Harvey joined the team, although he was victimized by a three-run first inning in an 8-2 loss at Colorado on Sunday.

“I’m really happy to see (Harvey) settle in,” interim manager Jim Riggleman told reporters. “He’s really throwing the ball good. The ball is coming out of his hand good.”

Koch has pitched well since taking over for Taijuan Walker after Walker suffered a season-ending elbow injury that required Tommy John surgery in late April. Since joining the rotation on April 20, Koch has made four quality starts among his seven starts and has limited opponents to two earned runs or fewer in six of seven. Throw out a four-homer clunker against Milwaukee on May 16, and he is 2-2 with a 2.45 ERA.

He is 1-2 with a 4.55 ERA in five home starts. He has never faced Cincinnati.

Bailey (1-6, 6.21) has not recorded more than 15 outs in his previous seven starts, since going a season-high seven innings in a 3-2 loss to St. Louis on April 15. Bailey has given up 31 earned runs, 11 homers and 58 hits in his last 34 1/3 innings. His only victory in that stretch was a 5-3 at the Dodgers on May 12 in which he gave up 10 hits and three runs in five innings.

Bailey has had more success on the road this season, going 1-1 with a 4.63 ERA in four starts. He is 1-1 with a 3.42 ERA in five career starts against Arizona, and his more outing was one of his best.

He gave up one run in 6 2/3 innings of a 2-1 victory against the Diamondbacks at Chase Field last July 9. He has split his two career starts at Chase Field.