Considering their success against the NL this season, back-to-back interleague games could be what the A's need to get on track, while the Reds look to end their struggles versus the AL.
Cincinnati hosts Oakland for a two-game set beginning Tuesday night.
The Athletics (64-47) sit atop the AL West but have lost four of five, allowing second-place Texas to creep closer. Oakland has totaled five runs in the last four defeats and is coming off a 4-0 loss to the Rangers on Sunday in which it committed two errors.
"We're having a tough time putting two games together in a row," manager Bob Melvin said. "We've been in a little bit of a rut, whether it's our defense, whether it's our pitching at times, or we haven't been timely as far as that goes."
The A's, though, have been at their best against the NL, posting a 13-5 record that includes two home wins over Cincinnati on June 25 and 26.
Strong pitching has keyed that success, with Oakland starters going 11-3 with a 2.90 ERA in interleague play. A.J. Griffin pitched a two-hitter in a 5-0 victory over the Reds on June 26.
Dan Straily (6-5, 4.41 ERA) has lost his last three starts with a 5.06 ERA, lasting fewer than five innings in the past two. The right-hander, however, has won all three outings against NL opponents with a 0.93 ERA.
Straily yielded five runs - two earned - while needing 96 pitches to throw 4 2-3 innings in a 5-0 loss to Toronto last Tuesday.
The Reds (61-51), losers of seven of nine, are 6-9 against the AL this season and 2-8 in the last 10 such matchups.
A 15-2 home loss to St. Louis on Sunday was their worst defeat of the season, coming two days after a 13-3 rout by the Cardinals.
Cincinnati trails Pittsburgh by 6 1/2 games for the NL Central lead, but is 4 1/2 ahead of Arizona for the league's second wild-card spot.
"We're running out of tomorrows and we need a sense of urgency," reliever Sam LeCure said. "We'll see what we're made of here coming down the stretch. Thankfully we do have some time to get it right."
Todd Frazier is 0 for 28 with 10 strikeouts in his last nine games while Shin-Soo Choo is 2 for 20 over his past seven.
Matt Latos (10-3, 3.38) has gone 2-0 with a 2.41 ERA in his last three starts. He didn't get a decision his last time out, giving up two runs in six innings of a 4-2 loss at San Diego on Tuesday.
Jed Lowrie is 4 for 5 with two home runs off Latos.
Josh Donaldson , homerless in 16 games since the All-Star break after hitting 16 in the first half, went 3 for 7 with two home runs and five RBIs in the first two meetings with the Reds.
Oakland owns a 10-4 advantage in the all-time series, outscoring Cincinnati 91-48.
|July 25, 2013||John Jaso||7-Day DL||Concussion|
|July 20, 2013||Yoenis Cespedes||Day-to-Day||Sore left wrist|
|June 29, 2013||Jarrod Parker||Day-to-Day||Left game - right hamstring cramp|
|June 20, 2013||Derek Norris||Day-to-Day||Left game - groin injury|
|June 11, 2013||Yoenis Cespedes||Day-to-Day||Left game - left hamstring tightness|
|May 07, 2013||Josh Reddick||15-Day DL||Sprained right wrist|
|July 20, 2013||Derrick Robinson||Day-to-Day||Sore left shoulder|
|July 10, 2013||Ryan Hanigan||15-Day DL||Sprained left wrist|
|June 29, 2013||Johnny Cueto||15-Day DL||Strained right lat|
|June 28, 2013||Johnny Cueto||Day-to-Day||Left game - tight right lat|
|June 14, 2013||Jonathan Broxton||15-Day DL||Right elbow flexor mass strain|
|June 01, 2013||Johnny Cueto||15-Day DL||Strained right shoulder|
CINCINNATI (AP) -- 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