Coming off one of the best outings of his career, Volquez will try to help the Reds salvage a split of their two-game road set with the NL East-leading Florida Marlins.
Volquez (3-2, 4.45 ERA) went 17-6 with a 3.21 ERA in his first full season in the majors in 2008, leading the Reds (13-12) in wins while posting the lowest ERA of any member of the rotation. The right-hander’s 206 strikeouts tied him with Arizona’s Dan Haren and Johan Santana of New York for second in the NL.
Volquez finally showed he’s capable of replicating that stellar season on Wednesday, with a double in the first being the only hit he would allow in a career-best eight innings in a 3-0 win over Houston. He struck out six, walked one and induced 12 groundouts with one popup, as 19 batters failed to get the ball out of the infield.
“I threw all my pitches where I wanted,” said Volquez, Cincinnati’s lone All-Star in 2008. “I wanted to go deep in the game.”
That performance came after he went 2-2 with a 6.20 ERA over his four previous starts, including a career-high seven walks in five innings of a 4-3 loss to Atlanta on April 24.
“Hopefully he’s back on track,” Reds manager Dusty Baker told the team’s official Web site. “He was still trying to find it, and he found it (Wednesday) - big time.”
Volquez will now try to help Cincinnati rebound from Monday’s 3-2, 14-inning loss at Florida (15-11).
He’s 2-0 with a 3.00 ERA in two starts against the Marlins, winning his only game at Dolphin Stadium on June 9, yielding three runs and three hits with five strikeouts and five walks in six innings of a 9-4 victory.
The Reds will be without shortstop Alex Gonzalez after he left Monday’s game in the 11th inning with a strained left oblique. He’ll be evaluated in Cincinnati on Tuesday and will likely be replaced by Paul Janish again.
Janish entered Monday’s game for Gonzalez and his error scored the winning run for the Marlins after he attempted to turn a double play but threw wildly to first.
Janish, though, is 7-for-17 (.412) in eight games after going 2-for-2 on Monday.
The Marlins, who have been atop the East since opening day, lead Philadelphia by one-half game. They’ve maintained the top spot despite going 4-10 following an 11-1 start to the season.
Florida also has gone a team-record 17 consecutive games without getting a win from a starter. The rotation is 0-7 with a 5.53 ERA in that stretch.
The team will give Chris Volstad (2-0, 2.67) his first start against the Reds as he looks to win for the first time in four starts. The 22-year-old right-hander hasn’t registered a decision in three outings despite a 3.44 ERA and 16 strikeouts in 18 1-3 innings.
He was solid Thursday, retiring the first 10 batters and yielding two runs and three hits - two homers - with five strikeouts in seven innings of an 8-2, 10-inning win at Chicago.
“I was able to keep the ball in the strike zone the whole night,” Volstad told the Marlins’ official Web site. “I didn’t fall behind too much.”