Reds rookie finds old form vs. Cards

Monday, August 18, 2008

CINCINNATI -- A little rest was all that Edinson Volquez needed.

A revived Volquez pitched seven shutout innings and traded up-and-in fastballs with counterpart Kyle Lohse on Sunday, leading the Cincinnati Reds to a 7-3 victory that ended the St. Louis Cardinals' four-game winning streak.

Despite getting only three hits off Volquez (15-5), the Cardinals headed home in a good frame of mind. St. Louis went 6-4 on its trip and got hints that its offense is coming around in time for a run at the NL wild card. The Cardinals remain close behind Milwaukee for the playoff spot.

"It's not exactly where we want to be, but we've got a shot," Lohse said.

They couldn't get to Volquez, who has been one of Cincinnati's few bright spots. The Reds have lost 17 of their last 22 games, putting them on course for an eighth straight losing season.

Troy Glaus' single off David Weathers ended the shutout in the eighth, and the Cardinals scored twice in the ninth off Francisco Cordero.

Jay Bruce and Jeff Keppinger had run-scoring singles off Lohse (13-6), who helped the Cardinals' injury-depleted rotation get through the first half of the season but has slipped into a slump of his own, losing three of his last four starts. Brandon Phillips hit a three-run homer in the seventh off Jaime Garcia.

"A 6-4 road trip is a good trip, but I just look at my two starts and we lost both of them," Lohse said. "If we won both, it could have been a great trip."

Volquez didn't let it happen.

The 25-year-old pitcher looked run-down after he made his first All-Star appearance in July. In his next four starts, he gave up nearly a run per inning. His control was a little off, his pitches were a little flat and his innings were piling up.

Reds manager Dusty Baker gave him two extra days of rest before his last start, and it fixed the problem.

"It was great for me because I'd been struggling last month," Volquez said. "I got on my mechanics a little bit better now. I'm keeping my head straight, too."

Volquez was back in form Tuesday at Pittsburgh, giving up only one run. He threw 96 mph fastballs and was nearly unhittable at the outset Sunday, allowing only one ball out of the infield in the first four innings. Adam Kennedy got the Cardinals' first hit, a line-drive single to center with one out in the fifth.

"Nobody goes a whole year without scuffling," Baker said. "We wonder if they're getting tired, and Volquez gets upset for us even asking about it."

The pitcher-vs.-pitcher matchup turned intriguing later in the fifth.

When Lohse came to bat with two runners aboard, Volquez threw a fastball that sailed past his head. Volquez led off the bottom of the inning and got an identical up-and-in fastball on Lohse's first pitch, prompting plate umpire Greg Gibson to warn both dugouts.

"Same spot," Lohse noted, referring to his reply pitch. "Wasn't trying to hit him, though."

The drama ended there, though not the debate. Volquez hit Felipe Lopez in the side with a pitch in the seventh -- Gibson deemed it an accident -- and Cardinals manager Tony La Russa argued vainly from the dugout, trying to get Volquez out of the game.

They couldn't get to Volquez that way, either.

"I have no comment on anything to do with him," La Russa said.


* Lohse went 6-12 with the Reds last season. It was his second career appearance against the Reds. He got no decision when he faced them in 2001 with the Twins.

* Reds rookie outfielder Chris Dickerson singled in the first inning, ending his extra-base streak. His first six hits in the majors were for extra bases -- four doubles, a triple and a homer.

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