CINCINNATI -- Zack Greinke had a rocky start to Thursday's series finale against the Reds, and though he settled down nicely after the first inning, sufficient damage had already been done.
The right-hander gave up two runs on four hits over six innings, but took the loss as the Dodgers were shut down by Cincinnati starter Alfredo Simon in a 4-1 defeat at Great American Ball Park.
Greinke gave up a bloop single to Skip Schumaker in the opening frame, followed by a two-run homer to right by Todd Frazier that put the Reds up, 2-1. After that, Greinke was sharp and very economical, giving up two hits and needing only 72 pitches to get through six innings.
"It wasn't necessarily any worse pitches than the rest of the game," Greinke said of his first-inning trouble. "It's just, Frazier's hot and Skip did what he could with the pitch I gave him and got a hit. And first-pitch slider, bottom of the zone, you'll take your chances [with Frazier]. But he's a strong guy and got a homer out of it."
"I thought he was good," Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said of Greinke. "I know [pitching coach Rick Honeycutt] went and looked at that pitch and thought Frazier hit a pretty good pitch, actually. We get that run early, they get it right back, and at that point you're thinking that's not going to be the end of it in a day game here in Cincinnati. So obviously, [Greinke] was good."
Los Angeles couldn't do much against Simon. In the first, Matt Kemp singled home Justin Turner for a short-lived lead. Beyond that, the Dodgers didn't muster any offense despite a golden scoring opportunity in the seventh.
Kemp led off with a single up the middle and moved to third on a single to right by Andre Ethier. But Tim Federowicz popped out to shallow right, and Kemp got caught in a rundown between third and home on a Miguel Rojas grounder to third. Pinch-hitter Scott Van Slyke then struck out.
The inability to produce a run in that situation magnified the effect that injuries are having on the Dodgers, with Hanley Ramirez out due to right shoulder soreness and both Juan Uribe and A.J. Ellis still unavailable.
"You'd like your lineup to be deeper," Mattingly said. "If we're totally healthy when you get towards the back end [of the lineup], we've got Uribe and A.J. in that. So it changes things a little bit. But honestly, that's who we are right now, and we're gonna get healthy from that standpoint. And we had chances."
The Reds added two runs in the eighth against reliever Brandon League. Zack Cozart doubled to lead off the inning, moved to third on a sacrifice bunt by pinch-hitter Billy Hamilton and scored on a wild pitch by League. Schumaker then doubled and scored two batters later on an RBI single by pinch-hitter Ryan Ludwick.
The loss for Greinke was only the second of his career following a Dodgers loss (12-2) and the first of his career at Great American Ball Park. He came into the start 4-0 with a 2.65 ERA in five starts there.
When it came to the question of whether the Dodgers lost some momentum by dropping the final two games of their road trip, continuing to hover around the .500 mark in mid-June, Greinke noted that it's a long season.
"We've been playing pretty solid," he said. "I mean, people expect us to win every game, win 10 games in a row. I mean, it's possible, but we're over .500. I think we're in the playoffs, as of now. We know we could do better, but jumping all over everyone, we're facing, I think, the second-best team in baseball right now, the Giants. … We'll go on a streak, but we'll probably go on another bad streak, too, before the season's over."
The Dodgers, who trailed the Giants by eight games in the NL West following Thursday's loss, now return to Dodger Stadium. They have gone 13-19 at home this season, and hope to improve on that record during a six-game homestand that begins Friday against the D-backs.
"You basically play .500 or a little bit above on the road, you're gonna feel pretty good about it," Mattingly said. "And up to this point, we haven't been able to make hay at home. I think that's the thing for us that has to change, is we've gotta play better at home."
Manny Randhawa is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.