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Learning curve: Parra, Hoover filling big shoes

Learning curve: Parra, Hoover filling big shoes

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Learning curve: Parra, Hoover filling big shoes

ST. LOUIS -- Veteran relievers are used to bouncing back from bad outings that cost their team a game, or games. The Reds' primary right-handed setup man, J.J. Hoover, is a second-year Major Leaguer. The main bullpen lefty, Manny Parra, is only in his second year as a reliever.

Both have stepped into the roles of injured relievers Sean Marshall and Jonathan Broxton.

"They are minimum salary guys doing maximum salary guys' work," Reds manager Dusty Baker said.

Baker had both pitchers in his office for chats on Tuesday, one day after the job wasn't done in a five-run seventh inning of the Reds' 8-6 loss to the Cardinals. Parra walked his first batter, Matt Carpenter, while Hoover walked his first batter, Matt Holliday, before leaving a first-pitch fastball over the plate to Allen Craig. That was hit for a two-out grand slam.

It was the second grand slam hit off of Hoover within six days. His 26 1/3-innings scoreless streak was snapped last week on a Paul Goldschmidt grand slam at Great American Ball Park. Parra, who had been airtight for much of the season, has allowed one earned run in each of his last three appearances.

"It's tough to take, but they are still learning," Baker said. "I always say you've got to continue to teach -- teaching them from a hitter's perspective to the pitcher and the pitcher's perspective to the hitters."

On the pitch to Craig, Hoover was trying to go outside because he was worried about hitting him with an inside pitch with the bases loaded. Hoover didn't get it out enough.

"I told him, when you put negative thoughts into your head, you get negative results," Baker said. "I talked to him today that the pitch was neither away, nor in. That's what happens when you're in the middle of conviction. You throw it in the middle. That's where that pitch went."

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.

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