WASHINGTON -- A little more than a week ago, Reds shortstop Zack Cozart was batting .246 with four home runs and 10 RBIs and coming off three consecutive multihit games. In his past five games, he is 2-for-26 (.077).
Cozart was hit by a pitch in the 13th inning of Cincinnati's 3-2 win over Miami on April 20, bruising two fingers on his right hand. X-rays on the fingers were negative, and Cozart only missed one game. He says the injury is not to blame for his recent struggles at the plate.
"There's a little bruising, but for the most part, I thought it was going to be a lot worse," Cozart said before Saturday's game. "Hitting the ball hard, that's all I can really do. I know I'm struggling, but we're not even through April yet."
Since being hit by the pitch on an attempted bunt, Cozart's batting average has sunk to .198. He went 1-for-4 on Saturday with a single in the sixth inning. But Reds manager Dusty Baker said his shortstop is simply going through a rough patch, nothing more.
"He's just not swinging good," Baker said. "You guys come up with all these [numbers]. I tell my guys, quit counting. If you count, you're going to go 1-for-23.
"You just accept what's coming. You accept it. It's like surfing. When you catch a good wave, you just ride it all the way to the beach and then get off. If you start wondering about when you're going to fall off, you're going to fall off. Just ride it and start anew, start a new day."
Reds bats show signs of life in minor bounceback
WASHINGTON -- The Reds mustered just one hit in each of their first two games of their series in Washington, becoming the fourth team in the live ball era to have one hit or fewer in two straight games, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.
While Saturday's result was the same -- a third straight loss -- the offensive numbers were a little more encouraging. The Reds had nine hits, including a Joey Votto double and home run by Shin-Soo Choo, and scored more runs than they had in the past three games combined. However, second baseman Brandon Phillips said that in a loss, none of that matters.
"The team's going through a funk right now," Phillips said. "We're hitting the ball good, we're just not finding the holes. You can't win every game. A loss is a loss."
"When it's going good, they're finding holes and when it's not, we're hitting 'em at people," Reds manager Dusty Baker said before the game. "I mean, we hit two balls off the pitcher [on Friday]. You don't panic. Sometimes you go through unfortunate periods of time where, like I said, we can't buy a run. ... If I could explain it, I'd be the best hitting coach in America, in the world."
With Saturday's loss, the Reds also fell to 1-8 on the road this season, the worst road record in baseball. At home, meanwhile, they are 12-4.
"I think everyone's more comfortable at home, just in general, because you're at your house, you get to sleep in your bed," right fielder Jay Bruce said. "But there's such a small sample size. We have 70 games on the road, or whatever it is, so chances are at the end of the day, we're going to be where we're going to be. You have to look at the big picture."
Cincinnati will close out its four-game series in Washington on Sunday, but the road doesn't get much easier from there. The Reds will play three games in St. Louis beginning Monday, then three in Chicago against the Cubs. They won't return home until May 6.
"There's 139 games left, so we have some time," Bruce said. "You just have to take it for what it's worth and take what you can when you can get it. That's just the bottom line."
• In his first inning of work after coming off the disabled list on Friday, Reds left-hander Sean Marshall was the team's most effective pitcher Saturday. He pitched a scoreless eighth inning and struck out two, showing no signs of the shoulder tendinitis that landed him on the DL on April 10.
"He was good," Reds manager Dusty Baker said. "There's not much I can say. We've come to expect that out of Marshall."
• Shin-Soo Choo homered to right field Saturday, the first since he hit home runs in three straight games from April 4-6.
• The Reds have now played a game on 16 consecutive days. They will have played on 20 straight days when they get their next off-day on May 1.
Tom Schad is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.