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Reds held to three hits in loss to D-backs

Cingrani allows three runs over five-plus innings; Pena has two hits

PHOENIX -- The Reds know they've wandered into a barren offensive wilderness from which it's getting tougher to emerge. Perhaps after the team meeting that was held in response to the season's rock bottom performance, they can finally find their way out.

A lineup that beat Clayton Kershaw a night earlier and left Los Angeles euphoric was neutralized by the D-backs' Josh Collmenter. The right-hander faced the minimum 27 batters and allowed three hits in a 4-0 Reds loss on Thursday night at Chase Field. Cincinnati has dropped five of its last six and is 1-3 on the road trip.

During all six of those games, the Reds have been held to three runs or less. Thursday marked the sixth shutout of the season.

"It's one of those games that you're simply embarrassed, basically," Reds third baseman Todd Frazier said. "That's all you can say. Everybody, from top to bottom, we're not playing well, even though we got the win yesterday. We should have been rolling into this next game."

The last time the Reds were held to three runs or less for six straight games were the final six games of the 2013 season, when they went 0-6 and limped to the National League Wild Card Game. This season, the club is ranked 29th out of 30 Major League teams in runs scored.

Manager Bryan Price has seen enough and indicated changes were coming.

"What you start to do is start to give more people opportunities," Price said. "We have a five-man bench and we will utilize it as you'll see [Friday] and over the course of this series and moving forward. You can't keep trying the same things and expect a different result.

"We know these guys are grinding and it's frustrating. Everyone is frustrated. There is not a lack of effort by any means. There is a lack of results."

All three of the Reds' hits were leadoff knocks -- including two by Brayan Pena -- and all three baserunners were erased by double plays. In the third, Pena doubled, but he aggressively attempted to advance to third base on a Zack Cozart flyout to center field and was nailed by a perfect throw from A.J. Pollock.

Following Pena's single in the sixth, Zack Cozart grounded into a 5-4-3 double play. Although there were a couple of sharp grounders, Collmenter retired the final 11 batters in a row for the first complete game of his career.

"They're a very aggressive team, especially off fastballs, and there are times you make a good first pitch and you could get some weak pop-ups and you could tell some frustrated swings and stuff like that," Collmenter said. "You never know if they're missing them or just frustrated with what they're swinging at."

The last pitcher in the Majors to face the minimum 27 batters in a nine-inning game and allow three or more hits was Roy Oswalt for the Astros on Sept. 11, 2008. The 27 batter, three-or-more hit game happened only 13 times in Major League history since 1914.

"You have to be the ones to make the adjustment. He threw a nice ballgame, but we're better than 27 guys batting in nine innings. That's beyond unacceptable," Price said. "There's a growing frustration offensively and you can sense it. It's palpable.

"At some point in time, it's got to start to come. You start digging yourself into a hole you can't get out of and it makes it a lot harder to rally later in the season. We have to start doing some things now, become more of an offensive force now as opposed to thinking we can play another 20-30 games like this and somehow survive and revive our season. That would be unrealistic."

Pena was optimistic after the game that the Reds can emerge from the funk.

"We're going to be all right," Pena said. "We're going to be OK. We trust each other. We know we're capable of pulling this together. That's what we're going to do."

Reds starting pitcher Tony Cingrani gave up three runs (two earned) on seven hits with two walks and three strikeouts. He is 0-3 with a 5.29 ERA in his three starts since returning from the disabled list from mild left shoulder tendinitis.

Arizona took a 1-0 lead in the first before the second batter was finished. Pollock hit a leadoff double and when he stole third base with Chris Owings up, catcher Devin Mesoraco's throw went into left-field foul territory, allowing Pollock to score easily.

In the second, Cingrani gave up two singles and a walk to load the bases with one out but escaped when Collmenter grounded into a double play. In the fourth inning, Aaron Hill hit a 3-1 pitch for a leadoff homer that made it 2-0. In the sixth, Martin Prado hit a leadoff double to left-center field and scored on a Hill RBI single to end Cingrani's outing.

"I was hoping to roll one more inning out of him and feel good about a six-inning outing," Price said. "He had retired the last five hitters and was very sharp. He had a six-pitch inning the inning before. It seemed to make sense to send him out there. He fell behind the first hitter, gave up a double and then a single for the run. That was my fault for leaving him in there."

The Reds are back to a season-high six games under .500 at 23-29 while Arizona owns the second-worst record in baseball at 23-33.

"We talked about it after the game. I think we're in a better place after we came together a little bit," Frazier said. "We talked as a team. We said we need to come together, that's about it."

Mark Sheldon is a reporter for Read his blog, Mark My Word, and follow him on Twitter @m_sheldon.
Read More: Cincinnati Reds, Brayan Pena, Tony Cingrani