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SF@CIN: Baker discusses the Reds' tough loss

CINCINNATI -- When original Reds closer Ryan Madson was lost for the season to an elbow injury during Spring Training, Sean Marshall welcomed the chance to step into the role.

While closing is a higher-profile gig that comes with great reward for saves, the losses ache just as much, if not more. That was the case Thursday when Marshall blew his first save in the top of the ninth inning for a 6-5 Reds defeat to the Giants. It came on Angel Pagan's three-run home run, which also erased Cincinnati's chance for a three-game series sweep.

"Marsh feels terrible," Reds manager Dusty Baker said. "We all feel terrible, especially when we were close to having a sweep against a quality team like that playing good ball. It's a tough one."

The Reds, who stole a 4-2 win from the Giants on Wednesday with four runs during a messy seventh inning, had one stolen right back from them.

"You're so happy one day and totally frustrated and unhappy the next day," Baker said. "Everybody is going to have their turn."

With a 5-3 lead heading into the ninth, Marshall began by walking leadoff batter Joaquin Arias and giving up Ryan Theriot's rolling single into left field.

"One of the biggest mistakes was walking the leadoff hitter," Marshall said. "When a guy gets on base, it kind of throws you out of your rhythm. You've got to pitch out of the stretch and I didn't make the pitches that I wanted to. It cost me a three-run home run and a loss."

Brett Pill struck out and Marshall had Pagan down in an 0-2 count but couldn't finish him. Offering a fastball, many of the 17,317 fans in attendance at Great American Ball Park thought Marshall had struck out Pagan. The pitch was called a ball by plate umpire Tim Welke.

On the 1-2 curveball that followed, Pagan lifted it into the left-field seats. Marshall's streak of four saves in his last four appearances came to an abrupt end.

Marshall didn't lament not getting the strike call on the pitch before the homer.

"I didn't hit my spot on the pitch," he said. "I was looking for a fastball up the letters. [Catcher] Devin [Mesoraco] was setting up for that. The ball was borderline. It was close. But the next pitch was the one that mattered. I definitely missed my spot on that one. The ball kind of hung on the middle of the plate. It was kind of a defensive swing, but he put the barrel on it. He got it up in the air and unfortunately, that's how the game swung."

On his way to getting the save Wednesday, Marshall struck out Pagan with a similar curveball to the one he hit out.

"I knew he was going to try to get me again, but I wasn't trying to look for it. I was just trying to react if he threw it for a strike," Pagan said. "He threw it in my zone. I tried to put it in play and it went out of the park."

Last season in 78 games for the Cubs, Marshall allowed just one home run.

"If history repeats itself, it will be the only homer this year," Baker said. "It's still tough to take."

For a Reds team that had won five of six coming in, the loss wiped out a strong day over most of the first eight innings. Starter Homer Bailey pitched 6 1/3 innings with three runs (two earned) allowed on seven hits with two walks and five strikeouts for his third straight quality start.

Bailey had a 2-0 lead after two innings while the Giants were aggressive throughout. San Francisco was retired in order on six pitches in the fifth inning and nine pitches in the sixth, when Bailey only had thrown 72 pitches.

It was a 2-2 game in the bottom of the sixth when Jay Bruce lifted a first pitch from Ryan Vogelsong for a high drive to right-center field. The ball looked catchable for Pagan until it landed in the first row of seats for Bruce's fourth homer of the season.

The Giants got a run back from Bailey in the seventh after Arias led off with a double and Theriot singled. Gregor Blanco's sacrifice fly made it a 4-3 game but Logan Ondrusek preserved the lead by stranding two runners and returned for a 1-2-3 eighth that included two strikeouts. Leading off the Reds' seventh, Scott Rolen crushed an 0-1 Guillermo Mota pitch 429 feet to left field for a homer that extended the lead.

"I really felt that last inning that I should have put up a zero," Bailey said. "I felt like I should have done a lot better than I did. I'd much rather have come away with the win. Our bullpen has done an excellent job all year. Despite what happened today, I know they will be there for our starting rotation throughout the year."

Not happy about the outcome, Marshall still had one element of the closer's role all figured out: Similar to being a setup man, always look forward and try not to look back.

"You try to show how resilient you are and bounce back from a tough game," Marshall said. "We have a lot of ballgames left. I know I'm going to be pitching in a lot of ballgames."

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