Starting a pitch over the plate requires trust. It requires conviction. And when that pitch is the best one in the arsenal, the pitcher needs a decent amount of both.

The team has had conversations with reliever Jared Hughes about regaining that trust and conviction in his two-seam fastball, manager Clint Hurdle said Wednesday, after a rough four-game stretch.

"We have had some conversations about what the challenges have been, why they've been and what we need to do," Hurdle said.

Hughes allowed a run in three of his past four outings before Wednesday and was the loser in two of them. He allowed four runs in 32/3 innings in that span.

"One thing we have visited with him is, he is a sinkerball pitcher," Hurdle said. "He needs to reaffirm the conviction of sinking that ball and repeating his delivery. He's thrown some very good sinkers in some sequences, and then he's thrown some balls that you have seen stayed up over the plate."

To strengthen the conviction in the pitch, Hughes said, he needs to start it down the middle. He must trust that the two-seamer's natural sinking action will carry it out of the batter's sweet spot and induce weak contact.

"Conviction with the sinker is believing that, you throw it for a strike, and the guy's going to make a weak out," Hughes said. "You try to be too perfect with that pitch, and, all of a sudden, you fall behind in the count."

Sandwiched between the two losses was a good appearance in which he faced one batter, striking out the Atlanta Braves' Chris Johnson with a runner in scoring position Sunday to end the seventh.

Hughes can practice physically throwing his sinker for a strike. The flip side is all faith.

"The mental side of it is just going out there and attacking and believing in the pitch," he said.