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Rookies Make Early Splash Before Reality Sets In and Cincinnati Reds Sweep Series Over D-Backs

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Welcome to the big leagues, Gerardo Parra and Bryan Augenstein.

After an exciting first inning, in which the two call-ups from Double-A Mobile looked like future superstars, it was all downhill for the Arizona Diamondbacks in a 10-3 loss Wednesday night to the upstart CIncinnati Reds.

The loss finished up a three-game sweep at the hands of Dusty Baker's Reds and dropped the D-Backs to a stomach-turning 9-15 record at home, a 1-5 record under new manager A.J. Hinch, and, alas, the second-worst record in baseball at 13-22 (only the Washington Nationals have won fewer games). 

For a blip, though, the D-Backs were rolling behind a couple of young guys -- one of whom is considered an elite prospect -- making their major-league debuts. Augenstein, a 22-year-old out of the University of Florida, looked real sharp in the top of the first inning as he set the Reds down in order on 12 pitches, including two strikeouts.

In the bottom of the first, outfielder Parra launched a 1-1 pitch off one of the best starting pitchers in the league, Johnny Cueto, into the right-field seats. The 22-year-old Venezuelan became the 100th player to hit a home run in his first big-league at-bat. Parra is considered one of the best prospects in the D-Backs system. With Conor Jackson on the DL, elevating Parra became a necessity -- perhaps before the kid's ready to see major-league pitching -- with the D-Backs' sticks almost non-existent on most nights. Parra finished the night 1 for 4 with three groundouts. And, offensively, Parra's dinger was as good as it got for the D-Backs on Wednesday.

Augenstein was nowhere near as good as teammate Max Scherzer was in his debut last year, but he wasn't terrible either. In fact, through six innings, he was solid, giving up only three runs to a slugging (and streaking) Reds offense. It would've been considered a quality start, but Augenstein ran into trouble in the top of the seventh and was yanked for a reliever. He'd thrown 82 pitches through six innings. Clearly, rookie manager A.J. Hinch was not going to err on the side of caution with his rookie pitcher; Hinch was going to let the guy pitch until he ran out of gas. 

Hinch knew Augenstein had been lights-out at Mobile, racking up a 5-0 record and 0.78 ERA in six starts. Yeah, that's pretty awesome, but it's also Double-A. Seems Hinch could've left well enough alone after Augenstein kept the D-Backs in the game for six innings. As it was, the bullpen let the game get out of hand in the final three innings.

As for the hitters, their struggles are well-chronicled at this point. In their defense, they faced one of the National League's best pitchers in Cueto. The second-year player had been red-hot, giving up only three runs in his previous five starts. He actually didn't look super-sharp on Wednesday night, but the D-Backs hitters made him look better than he was. They could muster only four hits off Cueto in seven innings. Once again, one of the few bright spots was Justin Upton, who went 2 for 3 with a run scored. His average is up to .306.

The D-Backs get a day off today, their only one in this mega-stretch of 40 games. Then, they get out of the not-so-friendly confines of Chase Field for three games against the Braves in Atlanta. The Braves, under loooongtime manager Bobby Cox, are 17-17 in a real tough division, the NL East. But they're also struggling to win at home, with a 5-9 record. Here's the scheduled weekend slate of games:

Friday: Doug Davis (2-5, 3.25 ERA) vs. Javier Vazquez (3-3, 3.88). 4:30 p.m.
Saturday: Max Scherzer (0-3, 3.98) vs. Kenshin Kawakami (2-4, 5.79). 4 p.m.     

Sunday: Jon Garland (3-2, 5.18) vs. Derek Lowe (5-1, 3.80). 10:30 a.m.
TV: FSN Arizona. Radio: KTAR-AM 620. More info: www.dbacks.com.

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