ST. LOUIS -- Reds shortstop Zack Cozart isn't off to a good start, but the worst hitless streak of his career is at least over.
With the bases loaded in the top of the ninth inning, Cozart hit an RBI single to center field off of Cardinals closer Trevor Rosenthal. It snapped an 0-for-22 skid, including an 0-for-3 day to that point, but the Reds still fell short in a 5-3 loss. He entered the day with the most at-bats in the Majors without a hit in this young season.
Cozart's previous longest hitless streak was 0-for-20, which he did from Aug. 24-29, 2012.
"You look around the league and see a lot of good hitters that are hitting .200, under .100 or still looking for their first hit," Reds manager Bryan Price said. "I don't have any lack of confidence in his ability to hit. I talked to him the other day and let him know to, 'Keep doing your thing, keep taking your at-bats and doing your work.' He's our shortstop. He's going to play."
Cozart's hitless streak to start a season was the longest for the Reds since Corky Miller's 0-for-29 stretch in 2004. Miller didn't get his first hit that season until Sept. 11, but his streak was spread over four separate callups.
"Of course, everybody wants to get out there and do better," Price said. "Offensively, we haven't gotten into full gear yet. I just don't want him to get exasperated through any self-induced pressures. There is enough pressure in this game to begin with."
Mesoraco activated; Pena starts vs. Cards
ST. LOUIS -- Reds catcher Devin Mesoraco was activated from the 15-day disabled list on Monday before a three-game series with the Cardinals. However, Mesoraco didn't make the start.
Brayan Pena was behind the plate to catch Reds starter Tony Cingrani. They formed the battery on Wednesday, when Cingrani pitched seven scoreless innings vs. St. Louis.
"He's not in there because of the way things worked between Brayan and Tony the first time through," Reds manager Bryan Price said. "I think familiarity is important in this particular case. Our intentions are for Devin to get the bulk of the playing time. That's not going to change. He's just not starting today."
Mesoraco suffered a strained left oblique muscle near the end of Spring Training and had to start the season on the DL. He went on a three-game rehab assignment at Double-A Pensacola and went 0-for-5 with two walks and a sacrifice fly.
"It went good. There were no problems. I am 100 percent healthy and ready to go," Mesoraco said. "I think it was important to go down and play a couple of games just so that I know there are no problems in there and I won't have any worries when I'm up here. Everything went well."
To make room for Mesoraco on the 25-man roster, the Reds optioned rookie catcher Tucker Barnhart to Triple-A Louisville. Barnhart was 2-for-8 in three games, including two starts.
Mesoraco took no issue with not being in Monday's lineup.
"I can get my feet under me today and go from there," he said.
Broxton rejoins Reds in St. Louis after rehab
ST. LOUIS -- Reds reliever Jonathan Broxton was back with the team on Monday but wasn't activated from the disabled list. Broxton, who got a late start to Spring Training because he was working back from August right forearm surgery to repair a torn flexor mass tendon, spent two games on a rehab assignment at Double-A Pensacola.
"Everything is good," Broxton said. "I felt good. I bounced back good."
Broxton pitched on Friday and Saturday for Pensacola, totaling two scoreless innings with one hit and one hit batter.
"Our intentions are to activate him over the course of the series here with the Cardinals," Reds manager Bryan Price said. "There's a good chance he will be activated tomorrow. He pitched back-to-back days. We wanted to give him at least two days off of recovery time after that, and then he will be in our mix."
There's a strong chance that Broxton will become the Reds' primary closer until the injured Aroldis Chapman returns from the DL. Chapman, who was struck in the head by a line drive, just resumed light throwing over the weekend.
When asked if he was ready to close games, Broxton deferred.
"That's up to them. They're going to tell me when to pitch. We've got Chappy down. I'll pitch the fifth, sixth, seventh or 12th, I don't care," Broxton said. "It doesn't matter to me. You still have to get three outs no matter where you pitch."
• The Reds re-signed infielder Chris Nelson to a Minor League contract and assigned him to Triple-A Louisville. Nelson was released on March 29 as one of the final cuts in camp after he batted .317 in 25 games.
• Monday marked the 788th time that Reds first baseman Joey Votto and second baseman Brandon Phillips started together, which is the most on the right side of the infield for any tandem in franchise history. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, it's the second-most total among active players behind Phillies first baseman Ryan Howard and second baseman Chase Utley (950). First baseman Frank McCormick and second baseman Lonny Frey rank second in Reds history with 774 starts together.