Griffin, A’s shut down Reds again, 5-0

Published 2:35 am Thursday, June 27, 2013

OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — Cincinnati manager Dusty Baker acknowledged the challenge of coming to Oakland for a two-game interleague series against a club his players hardly knew.

The Reds are plenty familiar with A.J. Griffin now, probably more so than they would like.

Griffin tossed a two-hitter to lead Oakland to a 5-0 victory Wednesday, dropping the Reds to 1-4 on their eight-game road trip ahead another tough stop at Texas this weekend.

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“That’s the first time we’ve seen him and he was impressive. He was changing speeds, maybe a 20-22 mph differential on his fastball,” Baker said. “He had us eating out of his hand and chasing out of the strike zone.”

No matter how good Homer Bailey was, the Reds missed far too many chances again.

Devin Mesoraco singled with one out in the fifth for Cincinnati’s first hit. Xavier Paul added a two-out double in the seventh, but that was it for the Reds.

“Everybody is going to have a streak like this. It didn’t matter because we didn’t score any runs,” Baker said. “You could, ‘Homer did this or did that’ but we had no chance, even if it was 1-0. Not only are we not scoring runs but we’re not getting any hits either. It’s not anything you want to do.”

Griffin (6-6) struck out seven and walked two in a 108-pitch gem for his first career complete game.

“He located the ball really well and threw strikes when he needed. He caught a couple of breaks here and there but he threw a good game,” Paul said. “It was one of those days when our bats were pretty slow. Good teams find a way to bounce back and we’re a good team, so we’ll get back to playing like we’re capable.”

Josh Donaldson hit a three-run homer to highlight a four-run fourth after hitting a two-run homer in Tuesday night’s 7-3 victory. The Reds lost for the fifth time in seven games and seventh in the last 11.

Bailey (4-6) faced just two over the minimum through three innings, and then ran into trouble in the fourth. He struck out seven and walked two in six innings in losing his second straight decision.

Oakland got four straight hits to start the fourth, taking a 1-0 lead on Moss’ double. Jed Lowrie was nearly caught at third by a sprinting Yoenis Cespedes, who held up as Lowrie ran home but missed the bag before reaching back to touch the plate as catcher Mesoraco lost the ball.

“They had the two ground balls that went through, then the double and it happened so quick,” Bailey said. “They were all on breaking balls, but were just up a little. Those aren’t bad pitches early in the count. Maybe I should have thrown the (heck) out of my fastball. But they’re a good hitting team, with a good approach at the plate. They grind out at-bats.”

Derrick Robinson and Joey Votto pulled off a double steal in the first to put runners on second and third, but Cincinnati missed more chances a day after stranding 11 baserunners.

The Reds are scheduled to bring second baseman Brandon Phillips back from the paternity list Friday at Texas.

“At least we’ll have Brandon back and he adds to the lineup,” Baker said.

Baker even had his team hit an abbreviated batting practice after the night game because, “This park plays as different day and night as anywhere in the big leagues.”

The tricky sun early and shadows late can be problematic. Donaldson experienced the glaring sun when the third baseman lost the ball on Paul’s foul popup in the fourth.

But Griffin kept things tricky for the Reds himself, mixing his pitches and pounding the zone.

“He did an excellent job today and worked the zone,” Donaldson said. “He made some really good hitters over there step back and rethink their approach a little bit.”

Griffin had been 0-3 in five starts since winning at Houston on May 25. The shaggy-haired right-hander was thrilled that nobody was warming up in the ninth, leaving it all up to him.

“I was trying not to think about it because I was hoping I wasn’t going to blow it,” Griffin said. “Obviously, I get a little extra adrenaline going there.”

NOTES: Griffin threw 73 of his pitches for strikes. … Cincinnati’s Shin-Soo Choo and Todd Frazier are each in 1-for-15 funks. … The A’s raised $32,000 during their annual root beer float day for the Juvenile Research Diabetes Foundation. Melvin’s grown daughter has juvenile diabetes. The game drew 25,658. … The Reds make just their second trip to Rangers Ballpark in Arlington and first since 2002.