The Cincinnati Reds didn’t have much success within the division or on the road in 2008, but the one exception to that was their play at Miller Park.
The Reds begin their first road trip of the season Monday night when they send Edinson Volquez to the mound in Milwaukee, where they won all three series against the Brewers last season.
Cincinnati (3-3) went 31-47 against NL Central opponents and 31-50 on the road last season. The Reds had losing records in each division opponents’ ballpark last season, except Miller Park.
Milwaukee (2-4) lost two of three in every home series against Cincinnati last season, and went 8-10 overall versus the Reds. That kind of success is something Cincinnati is hoping to duplicate as it begins a season-high 10-game trip that also includes visits to Houston and the Chicago Cubs.
“This is a big, important road trip coming up, one of the longest of the year,” manager Dusty Baker told the Reds’ official Web site. “I’d rather do it now, when you’re still strong. The later you get, the hotter it is, and you don’t have the same energy. Plus, it’s in the division. It’s two places we have to improve on, big time: going on the road and in the division. We’ve got both of them on this trip.”
This trip will start with Volquez on the mound. He tied a major league record by giving up no more than one earned run in each of his first eight starts in 2008, but it was a different story one year later.
Volquez (0-1, 8.31 ERA) was tagged for five runs over 4 1-3 innings in a 9-7 loss to the New York Mets on Wednesday. He threw just 56 of 104 pitches for strikes.
“Edinson’s control wasn’t there,” Baker said.
The 25-year-old right-hander is 1-1 with a 5.09 ERA in three career starts against the Brewers - all in 2008.
One reason Milwaukee had trouble against Cincinnati last season was the lack of production from hitters 3 and 4 in its lineup. Ryan Braun hit .219 versus the Reds in 2008 while Prince Fielder batted .227.
Brewers starter Yovani Gallardo (1-0, 2.70) began 2009 in strong fashion. He allowed two runs over 6 2-3 innings Wednesday and also hit a three-run homer off Randy Johnson in a 4-2 win at San Francisco.
Gallardo pitched just four times in 2008 due to two knee injuries, and was thankful to be on the mound to start the season.
“There were a lot of things going into it, with my first start of the year after I wasn’t able to start off with the team last year,” Gallardo said. “There was a little bit of anxiousness there. The win, that’s obviously the most important for me.”
The 23-year-old right-hander is 1-0 with a 1.32 ERA in two career starts against the Reds.
The Brewers have yet to win a series this season, dropping two of three in San Francisco before returning home to lose two of three to the Cubs.
They hope Gallardo can provide some innings after Jeff Suppan lasted just 3 2-3 against the Cubs in an 8-5 loss on Sunday - the shortest outing by a Milwaukee starter so far. Rickie Weeks went 3-for-5 to break out of a 4-for-20 slump.
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