OAKLAND -- It didn't matter how good or bad Homer Bailey pitched for the Reds vs. the A's on Wednesday. His lineup went down quietly, too quietly.
Oakland jumped Bailey for four quick runs in the fourth inning, but the Reds managed to scrape together just two hits against A.J. Griffin during a 5-0 loss to drop both games in the two-game series at O.co Coliseum. The complete game and shutout were the first of Griffin's young career.
In third place in the National League Central behind the Cardinals and Pirates, Cincinnati heads into its second off-day in four days on Thursday with plenty to think about. Besides having lost five of their last six games, the Reds' eight-game road trip is off to a 1-4 start, with three tough games remaining against the Rangers.
"We could say 'Homer didn't do this,' or 'he was quick,' or whatever. We didn't score any runs, and we had no chance even if it was 1-0," Reds manager Dusty Baker said. "We're trying to figure out how we go through these streaks or, not just scoring runs, but not getting hits.
"Is it the good pitching against us? I'd like to think so. Or is it us maybe not as good as we want to be at hitting? Or are we expecting too much out of the guys we have? You don't know. One thing for sure, it's not going to get any easier where we're going."
Griffin, who entered the day 0-3 over his previous five starts, encountered little resistance along the way. He gave up two walks in the first inning, including a four-pitch free pass to the game's first batter, Shin-Soo Choo.
"I'm sure you guys weren't thinking after the first inning that it was a complete game," said Griffin, who struck out seven -- including Jay Bruce four times. "Neither was I, but I just went out there and tried to execute pitches, and it worked out."
The Reds did not notch their first hit until Devin Mesoraco's one-out single in the fifth inning. Mesoraco was promptly erased by Cesar Izturis' inning-ending double play.
Reds hit No. 2, and their final baserunner, was a two-out double off of the right-field wall by Xavier Paul in the seventh.
"That's the first time we've seen him. He was very impressive," Baker said. "He was throwing the ball to all four quadrants. ... There was a 20-22 mph differential between his fastball and breaking ball and changeup. He had us eating out of his hand today."
It was the fifth time this season that the Reds have been shut out.
Bailey pitched six innings and gave up four runs and six hits with two walks and seven strikeouts. All four runs and four of his hits came in the fourth inning.
It was a scoreless game until the bottom of the fourth, when Bailey very suddenly found himself in a four-run deficit. The first four batters reached with hits. Jed Lowrie and Yoenis Cespedes hit back-to-back singles before Brandon Moss lined a 2-2 breaking ball for an RBI double to right field that scored Lowrie.
On the very next pitch, Josh Donaldson hit a 91-mph slider from Bailey for a three-run home run to left field.
"It happened really quick," said Bailey, who is 1-2 with a 3.97 ERA over his last five starts. "I went back and looked and everything was on breaking balls that were either just up and actually weren't bad pitches early in the count. They didn't do a whole lot of damage with the fastball.
"All the times everybody says you need to throw your breaking ball for strikes, I should have just thrown the [stuff] out of it. They're a good hitting team. They have good approaches at the plate, grind out at-bats. Maybe we need to make a little better pitches there."
It's been a road trip on which the team has excelled in few areas. Reds starters have a 6.30 ERA in the five games thus far. The bullpen gave up another run as Tony Cingrani allowed an RBI double to Nate Freiman in the seventh, which made it eight earned runs over the last nine innings for the relievers.
Offensively, Choo is in a 1-for-15 skid over the last four games, while Todd Frazier is also 1-for-15 in his last five games. Bruce is 0-for-his-last-9 with seven strikeouts. Brandon Phillips, who missed the Oakland series for personal reasons, will be 1-for-11 on the trip when he returns for the series at Texas on Friday.
"Good teams, they bounce back and find a way to get back on track," Paul said. "And we're a good team. I don't think it will take long to get back on track and winning the way we're capable of."