Reds struggling to capitalize on scoring chances

Reds struggling to capitalize on scoring chances

CINCINNATI -- It was only on Tuesday when the Reds' bats erupted for a 16-run game and a win over the Brewers. Now even if they rub two bats together, their lineup is unable to create a spark.

Including Sunday's 5-2 loss to the Cubs, the Reds have scored nine runs over the past four games. That doesn't mean the chances haven't been there. They've been plentiful.

Cincinnati was 0-for-6 with runners in scoring position on Sunday. Since a first-inning RBI single by Joey Votto on Wednesday at Milwaukee, the lineup is 0-for-23 with runners in scoring position.

"It's not where we want to be, offensively. I think we're creating opportunities," Reds manager Bryan Price said. "We haven't been able to cash in on them with any consistency. We've got to get better. It's a game we fell behind early, but we had a really good opportunity to get back in the game there."

It was a 5-1 game in the fifth inning when the Red had the bases loaded with no outs against Cubs starter Jake Arrieta. Billy Hamilton bounced into a fielder's choice at shortstop as Zack Cozart scored. After Hamilton stole second base, Joey Votto walked to load the bases again with one out. But Todd Frazier popped out in foul territory and Brandon Phillips grounded into a fielder's choice to kill the rally.

"Especially from myself. I came up there with the bases loaded, one out. You have to put the ball at least on the ground, put it in play," Frazier said. "You've got to figure it out. Bottom line, at least get one run or hit a sac fly and we still have momentum the next inning. I've got to pick myself up."

After the Votto walk in the fourth, Cubs pitchers retired 14 of the final 16 Reds batters in the game.

"Our opportunity was there really to get back in the game, and it never materialized," Price said. "It didn't evolve at all."

While losing seven of their last 10 games, the Reds have shown a feast-or-famine type of output offensively. In the three wins, they scored 24 runs. In the seven losses, they've scored 11 runs.

It'd be easy to simply say the Reds aren't hitting with runners in scoring position, which their .201 average in those situations reflects. But as a team, they are hitting .219 overall. Phillips, who has been the cleanup hitter since Devin Mesoraco has been limited to pinch-hitting duties with a hip injury, has a decent .269 batting average.

On the other hand, Phillips also has a .269 slugging percentage since all 18 of his hits this season have been singles. It's not just on Phillips. All of the Reds need to find some big hits -- plus big runs -- and soon.

Mark Sheldon is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Mark My Word, and follow him on Twitter @m_sheldon. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.