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5/31/2014 8:18 P.M. ET

McCarthy has struggled with avoiding big innings

PHOENIX -- D-backs starter Brandon McCarthy has struggled with avoiding big innings this season, so he knew going into Saturday's game that he had to avoid a catastrophic frame against the Reds because he did not have much room for error.

McCarthy has given up multiple runs in an inning in six of his 11 starts this season. His opponent, Reds starter Johnny Cueto, has done the same in only three games, and only two times did he give up more than two runs in one inning.

"That's been something that's plagued [McCarthy] throughout this year," D-backs manager Kirk Gibson said. "It just comes down to making the pitches."

The last two times McCarthy had multi-run innings, they came after he had gotten off to a strong start.

Against the Padres on May 26, McCarthy pitched four scoreless innings to start the game but gave up two home runs -- a solo shot from Yonder Alonso and a three-run blast by Everth Cabrera -- in a four-run fifth inning.

When he faced the White Sox in Chicago, his performance changed abruptly. McCarthy began the game with three perfect innings but gave up nine hits -- seven singles, a double and a grand slam -- in the fourth inning. He didn't make it out of the frame.

Gibson said big innings have been a topic of conversation with McCarthy, and they are working on correcting the issue.

"He's worked a lot on it," Gibson said before the game Saturday. "I watched his last bullpen. There was conversation about it. You know, maybe there's different things you can go to in those situations.

"He's 1-6, he's throwing the ball very well this year. He's healthy, he's got a live arm, he's got good stuff. I hope he gives us another good game tonight."

Gibson and La Russa are strategizing

PHOENIX -- The D-backs' new chief baseball officer, Tony La Russa, has spent much of his first two weeks in the position observing the D-backs' Minor League teams, but that hasn't stopped him from keeping an eye on the big league club.

D-backs manager Kirk Gibson said Saturday that he and La Russa, whose hiring was announced May 17, talk on occasion about the state of the D-backs.

"[He is] trying to get to know the organization and all the people that are in the organization, all the players that are in the organization," Gibson said. "I wouldn't say [we talk] all the time, yet he communicates enough to make his point, and I've told him from Day 1, 'I want to know if you have any suggestions, would you do anything different?'"

Gibson also addressed the conjecture that the rest of this season will be his chance to prove himself to La Russa in order to keep his job after a substandard start to this season.

"I don't think about that, I don't think that way," Gibson said. "I'm just trying to get better every day, trying to prepare this team every day. We're trying to get better, and everything takes care of itself one way or the other."

Adam Lichtenstein is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.