A few strong performances down the stretch for the playoff-hopeful Cincinnati Reds would help alleviate some of that disappointment.
Volquez looks to build on his best start of the season Thursday afternoon when the Reds close a four-game series against the Arizona Diamondbacks.
While drawing closer to their first NL Central title since 1995, the Reds will also need to decide their rotation for the first round of the playoffs. Bronson Arroyo(notes) and Johnny Cueto(notes) appear set as the first two starters and Volquez could lock down the No. 3 spot if he pitches well down the stretch.
Cincinnati (83-63) received a very encouraging performance from the right-hander Saturday in his first start following a stint in the minors to fix problems with his delivery. Volquez (3-2, 5.14 ERA) pitched one-hit ball over seven scoreless innings, walked one and struck out a season-high 10 against Pittsburgh. He turned a 3-0 lead over the bullpen, which gave up four runs in the Reds’ 5-4, 10-inning win.
Volquez didn’t make his 2010 debut until July after missing nearly a year because of reconstructive right elbow surgery.
“Volquez was masterful tonight. That’s the best he’s pitched since he’s been back,” manager Dusty Baker said.
One of Volquez’s poor starts before his demotion came at Arizona on Aug. 18, when he was reached for five runs and six hits with three walks in four innings. The Reds scored eight runs in the final two innings and rallied for an 11-7 win.
Cincinnati rebounded from Tuesday’s loss with a 7-5 victory Wednesday night, and extended its lead in the Central to a season high-tying eight games over reeling St. Louis. Drew Stubbs(notes) homered and Jay Bruce(notes) preserved the win with a leaping catch to rob Adam LaRoche(notes) of a game-tying home run with two outs in the ninth.
“That was an amazing play,” said closer Francisco Cordero(notes), who nearly blew his third save in four chances. “That’s the kind of play you’re going to see over and over on ESPN and MLB. I gave him a big hug. He saved my life. He gets the save.”
This will be the second time this season that Lopez is matched up with Volquez. The right-hander gave up three runs over five innings Aug. 18 before leaving without a decision.