CINCINNATI (AP) – Another game full of wasted chances and wasted pitching prompted the Reds to call for a meeting.
Alex Cobb went seven innings on Saturday, extending Tampa Bay’s run of solid starting pitching, and James Loney homered for a 1-0 victory over the slumping Reds, who took a few minutes to talk things out after the game.
“It was just a friendly reminder of what we’ve got here and who we are as a team,” catcher Brayan Pena said. “It was a very positive meeting. The skipper (Bryan Price) got involved.”
Price switched up his batting order Saturday, trying to get the Reds out of their hitting funk. It didn’t work. Cincinnati stranded a pair at third base and had runners thrown out at third and home.
The Reds have lost all four of their series this season, falling to 3-8 for the first time since 1995, when they won the NL Central. They’ve got the worst record in the majors.
“We’re trying to stay aggressive,” Price said. “You have to take advantage of your opportunities until you get on a roll. We just didn’t have a lot of guys on base today.”
The Rays came into the interleague series with a 1-8 mark against Cincinnati. They’ve taken the first two games of the series.
Cobb (1-1) pitched seven shutout inning against Texas on Sunday but got a no-decision. He kept the scoreless streak going Saturday, limiting Cincinnati’s struggling lineup to four hits without walking a batter. He’s now gone 15 1-3 innings without allowing a run.
Grant Balfour, who fanned Pena with the bases loaded to end Friday night’s game, got three outs for his fourth save in as many chances, finishing off the four-hitter.
Loney led off the second inning with his first homer against Alfredo Simon (1-1), who matched his career high with eight innings and allowed only five hits. Simon moved into the rotation after Mat Latos injured his knee at the start of spring training.
In two starts, Simon has allowed eight hits and two runs in 15 innings. The Reds have scored only two runs behind him.
“I just worked really hard over the winter,” said Simon, who hadn’t started since 2011. “I got the opportunity to be a starter. I’m just trying to make my pitches and keep the game close.”
The Rays opened the series with a 2-1 win Friday night, when David Price took a shutout into the ninth before Joey Votto homered with one out. Rays starters have thrown at least seven shutout innings four times in the last six games.
It was Tampa Bay’s second shutout of the season, and the second time the Reds have been shut out. They also were blanked 1-0 by the Cardinals on opening day.
Both managers changed their lineups, looking for some runs.
The Rays have scored only nine in their last six games, but managed to win three of them because of the impressive pitching. The Reds have scored 28 runs all season, second-fewest in the National League.
Joe Maddon stocked his lineup with left-handers against Simon. Price moved Votto from third to second in the batting order, the first time he’d batted second since 2008.
Neither move made much of a difference. Nice defense by both teams also kept it close.
Votto led off the fourth with a ground-rule double. Kevin Kiermaier threw out Votto at the plate as he tried to score on Brandon Phillips’ single to center. Phillips went to second on the play and was thrown out trying to steal third.
Kiermaier was optioned back to Triple-A Durham after the game, as expected.
The Reds wasted another chance in the sixth, when Zack Cozart was hit by a pitch and advanced on a wild pitch and a sacrifice. Billy Hamilton hit a shallow fly and Votto grounded out.
NOTES: LHP Erik Bedard was added to the Rays’ roster following the game. … LHP Cesar Ramos moves from the bullpen to the rotation on Sunday, taking the place of injured Matt Moore. Ramos will make his fourth career start. Reds LHP Tony Cingrani makes his first career appearance against the Rays. … Latos had an MRI on his pitching forearm. It bothered him during a throwing session the previous day. Latos is trying to recover from surgery to repair torn knee cartilage on Feb. 14.