Reds 3, Athletics 1

Mat Latos couldn’t get his curve to obey or his slider to work,

but he had one thing in his favor. It doesn’t take a whole lot

these days to get the Oakland Athletics out.

Latos pitched into the eighth inning against Oakland’s slumping

lineup, and Jay Bruce homered and made a run-saving catch on the

warning track, leading the Cincinnati Reds to a 3-1 victory on

Tuesday night.

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 shutouts- Derek Norris

hit a two-out homer in the ninth off Aroldis Chapman.

Not bad on a night when the starting pitcher is pretty much

reduced to a fastball.

”I didn’t have my off-speed pitches,” Latos said. ”My

curveball was above the shoulders and my slider was below the toes.

(Catcher Devin Mesoraco) did a good recognizing it. He knew I

didn’t have my slider, and he and the defense did a great job

behind me.

”I found it late, but before that, we were able to exploit some

weaknesses we thought we saw in them. They put the ball in play and

the defense did the job.”

Latos (11-3) allowed four hits through 7 1-3 shutout innings,

leaving him 3-0 in his last four starts. Chapman got his 26th save

in 30 chances.

”He was in and out of trouble,” manager Dusty Baker said of

Latos. ”He made the pitches when he had to. The defense made the

plays when it had to. He left a lot of runners out there. He did a

good job keeping us in the game.”

Bruce hit his 23rd homer off Dan Straily (6-6), who has lost his

last four starts. 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.

The A’s made their first visit to Great American Ball Park –

opened in 2003 – hoping to break out of their offensive slump in a

hitter-friendly place. The A’s are only 8-9 since the All-Star

break.

Heading into the interleague series, the A’s were batting .218

in their last 20 games, getting blanked four times. They were

coming off a 4-0 loss to Texas on Sunday. Manager Bob Melvin said

his players knew all about Great American’s propensity to help

hitters, and hoped it would provide some encouragement.

Didn’t work out that way. The A’s stranded runners in scoring

position in the first, third, fifth and eighth innings.

”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.”

Coco Crisp tripled over first base with one out in the third but

failed to score as the next two batters popped out. Their best

chance came in the fifth, when they loaded the bases on Stephen

Vogt’s single, second baseman Brandon Phillips’ error and a walk.

Yoenis Cespedes grounded into a forceout.

Cincinnati didn’t get much offense, either, but this time it was

enough.

Bruce led off the second inning with a drive to left. Phillips

singled home another run in the fourth, which was Straily’s final

inning. He threw 75 pitches while failing to last five innings for

the third start in a row and seventh time in 18 starts overall this

season.

Shin-Soo Choo led off the fifth with a double off Jerry Blevins

and came around when the left-hander fielded Derrick Robinson’s

bunt and threw wildly to first for an error.

NOTES: Oakland is 13-6 in interleague play, Cincinnati 7-9. The

A’s swept their two-game series in Oakland. … The Reds plan to

activate RH reliever Jonathan Broxton off the DL before Wednesday’s

game. C Ryan Hanigan (wrist) and LF Ryan Ludwick (shoulder) are

expected back by the end of the week. … 3B Todd Frazier was out

of the starting lineup. He’s in an 0-for-28 slump, the longest by a

Reds player since Drew Stubbs went 0 for 32 last season. … RHP

Bartolo Colon tries for his 15th victory on Wednesday, facing

Cincinnati’s Homer Bailey (6-10). Colon has gone at least six

innings and allowed three runs or fewer in his last 15 starts, the

longest streak by an Athletics pitcher since at least 1916.

Follow Joe Kay on Twitter: http://twitter.com/apjoekay