CINCINNATI -- The Athletics had a chance to match some franchise history on Sunday. It was history they did not want any part of.Marcus Semien, Jake Smolinski and Danny Valencia each hit home runs, as the A's ended their season-high losing streak of seven games with a 6-1 win over
CINCINNATI -- The Athletics had a chance to match some franchise history on Sunday. It was history they did not want any part of.
Marcus Semien, Jake Smolinski and Danny Valencia each hit home runs, as the A's ended their season-high losing streak of seven games with a 6-1 win over the Reds on Sunday at Great American Ball Park. Semien and Smolinski each hit two-run homers in the second inning off of Cincinnati starter John Lamb (1-4), while Valencia hit a solo homer in the eighth inning off of reliever A.J. Morris.
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All seven losses had come on the road. Sunday's win kept the A's from going winless on a road trip of eight or more games for what would have been just the fourth time in Oakland history.
"Each and every game that you go through a losing streak like that, there's just a little more urgency," A's manager Bob Melvin said. "There should be. But it's miserable going home every night. You can't even enjoy your evening when you're in a losing streak like that."
The Reds, who have won nine of 15 games since ending their own 11-game losing streak on May 28, took two of three games for a third series win in their last four attempts. The loss denied them their second series sweep of the season. They opened the season with a three-game sweep of Phillies at home.
The A's bullpen combination of Fernando Rodriguez, John Axford, Sean Doolittle and Ryan Madson combined to toss five shutout innings in relief of starter Kendall Graveman, who gave up seven hits and one run in four-plus innings. He was taken out in favor of Rodriguez (2-0), who was credited with the win after throwing two scoreless innings. More >
"We had some situations with guys on base, and we weren't able to come up with the hit today," Reds manager Bryan Price said. "Bob [Melvin] went to the bullpen there in the fifth, and that's a strength. It was really hard after that to generate any offense."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Two deep: After Billy Butler started the second with a single, Semien brought him home with a 360-foot line-drive homer on a 3-1 fastball from Lamb. Lamb gave up another single the next at-bat to Josh Phegley, and Smolinski made him pay, hitting a 395-foot homer over the center-field fence on the first pitch he saw from the Reds' lefty, a changeup right down the middle.
"Right away, we get some home-run production from some righties here in a ballpark that you expect to hit the ball out of the ballpark, because we do have some guys that can do it," Melvin said. "You can grind your way, knock a run via single, but you hit a ball out of the ballpark, a couple two-run homers right away make you feel a little bit better about where you're going in the game."
Leave 'em loaded: Zack Cozart ended a personal 0-for-15 streak with a single leading off the third inning, but he could have used that hit in the fourth inning. The Reds loaded the bases with two outs against Graveman, but Cozart ended the threat with a groundout to second baseman Jed Lowrie.
Valencia adds another: Valencia hit a 381-foot solo shot on a 2-2 slider from Morris to lead off the eighth. The homer extended Valencia's hitting streak to five games, and he now has a hit in 10 of his last 11 games.
Immediate impact: Tyler Holt didn't get the start in center field, but he made his presence felt immediately when he entered the game as part of a double-switch in the seventh inning. Holt backed up Jay Bruce on a single that Jed Lowrie hit toward the right-center gap with two outs. Bruce was unable to cut the ball off, but Holt was right there to pick it up off the bounce. Lowrie attempted to stretch his hit into a double, but Holt delivered a great throw to retire him.
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"You've got to attack. We give up a two-out single there and then a two-out double, but then you've got to know that, 'Hey, I've got to finish this inning, get my team back in.' I know there's been a couple games this year where we've scored three and you go back and give up three. To come back in there with a lead, especially a fairly quick inning, to get the team back in, they hit a little bit, is big. So that's your main purpose is to keep the lead after you get one," -- Graveman, on pitching with a lead
"Taking the ball, I was prepared mentally, physically. I did everything I could to keep those guys off-balanced. I tip my hat to them on a couple of pitches there, hitting the ball pretty hard and knocking it over the fence for some runs. That does some damage right there." -- Lamb, on giving up a pair of two-run homers in the second inning
Athletics: The A's head back to Oakland for a nine-game homestand, starting with the AL West-leading Rangers on Monday at 7:05 p.m. PT. Sean Manaea, who has pitched at least six innings in his last five starts, will toe the rubber in the opener.
Reds: Daniel Wright will make the second start of his career as the Reds kick off a three-city, nine-game road trip on Monday with a 7:10 p.m. ET game against the Braves. Wright is replacing Alfredo Simon in the rotation. His previous start came against the Dodgers in Los Angeles when he went 5 1/3 innings, allowing four runs (three earned) on seven hits.
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Kevin Goheen is a contributor to MLB.com based in Cincinnati.
Cody Pace is a reporter for MLB.com.