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.