CINCINNATI -- In one of the most dispiriting offensive performances of Oakland's season, the A's floundered time and again with men in scoring position Tuesday, only avoiding a shutout on a two-out, ninth-inning homer by Derek Norris in a 3-1 loss to the Cincinnati Reds.
"It was frustrating, absolutely frustrating," first baseman Brandon Moss said. "We came in here leaving the Coliseum, knowing this is a great place to hit, and then we didn't hit."
The A's also didn't hit at the Coliseum on Sunday, getting shut out by Texas 4-0. The A's had gone 18 2/3 innings without getting a run across the plate before Norris' eighth homer averted the first back-to-back shutouts of the season for Oakland.
But Great American Ball Park is one of the best hitters' venues in the major leagues. What does it say when the A's come in and get five hits, leave eight on base while going 0 for 8 with runners in scoring position?
"It means it's time to move on," Moss said. "That's the beauty of this sport. Tomorrow is another day, another chance to win. Another beauty of it is that it's just August. We have plenty of time to get out of this funk."
The Rangers sliced another game off Oakland's lead in the West and now the A's advantage is one game.
Manager Bob Melvin's postgame words didn't indicate any roiling frustration on his part, certainly not enough to call a team meeting. But that doesn't mean there aren't changes in the works. The Reds are following Tuesday's starter, Mat Latos (11-3), by throwing another right-hander, Homer Bailey (6-10).
"We're one game under .500 in the second half," Melvin said of the A's, 8-9 since the All-Star break. "I don't know that it calls for a team meeting. But we could see some different guys in there."
One of those is Norris, who homered on a 3-2 pitch off lefty closer Aroldis Chapman with two outs in the ninth Tuesday. Another could be lefty Seth Smith even though he's had his struggles at the plate lately.
The A's put men in scoring position with one out in four innings. Eric Sogard doubled down the right field line with one out in the first. Coco Crisp tripled in the third, also with one out. The fifth inning saw Stephen Vogt open with a single and with one out, the A's had men on second and third thanks to an error.
The results were four routine pop flies, four tame grounders and two inconsequential walks, all of which added up to no runs.
"When we've got a guy on third base and less than two out, we've got to do a better job," said third baseman Josh Donaldson, one of the few A's not to have an at-bat with a man at either second or third. "It's not just tonight. It's the last two weeks.
"We know we're not playing very well right now. But we'll get it going. And when it happens, we'll go on a nice little run."
For the A's, in the midst of a pennant race, they will have to score runs to go on a run. With Oakland trying to fend off fast-closing Texas, it can't happen soon enough.
A's (Bartolo Colon 14-3 at Cincinnati (Homer Bailey 6-10), 9:35 a.m. MLB Network
A'S HITTING WOES
In losing five of six games, the A's have been shut out twice, averaged 1.67 runs per game and gone 4 for 42 with runners in scoring position. Here's how their offense has fared during the stretch:
Date Score Hits RISP
July 30 Toronto 5, A's 0 7 1-4
July 31 Toronto 5, A's 2 (10) 8 0-12
Fri Texas 8, A's 3 7 1-7
Sat A's 4, Texas 2 8 2-5
Sun Texas 4, A's 0 5 0-6
Tue Cincinnati 3, A's 1 5 0-8