Pittsburgh (6-8) at Cincinnati (9-5)

Mostly Cloudy Currently: Cincinnati, OH
Temp: 69° F
  • Game info: 1:10 pm EDT Sun Apr 17, 2011
  • TV: ROOT, FSOH
Preview | Box Score | Recap

Edinson Volquez(notes) has already benefited this season from the Cincinnati Reds’ generous run support. He’s needed a little more in most of his matchups with the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Volquez will try to improve to 3-0 in this campaign with a third consecutive double-digit strikeout performance against the Pirates on Sunday.

Cincinnati led the NL with a .272 average, 188 homers and 790 runs scored in 2010 while capturing its first division title in 15 years. The Reds (9-5) are back among the league leaders in hitting .288 with 19 homers and 86 runs scored.

Ramon Hernandez(notes) hit his sixth career grand slam, and Jonny Gomes(notes) went deep twice in an 11-2 rout Saturday. The previous day, Cincinnati matched a season low with five hits during a 6-1 loss in the opener of a four-game series.

“We scored a lot of runs today,” Hernandez said. “After (getting) just one run last night, it gives you a little confidence back.”

Like most of the Reds pitchers, Volquez (2-0, 5.82 ERA) has benefited from his team’s effort. He got just enough support in a 3-2 win in San Diego on Monday while allowing two runs and three hits over six innings.

In his previous start April 6 against Houston, Volquez gave up four runs and five walks over five innings but came away with a win in a 12-4 drubbing of the Astros. He was charged with five runs in the season opener March 31 but avoided the loss as Cincinnati rallied for a 7-6 win over Milwaukee.

That support has given Volquez a chance for his first 3-0 start since winning his first four decisions with the Reds in 2008.

Having struck out a combined 23 batters in his last two starts against the Pirates (6-8), the right-hander would seem on track to accomplish that feat. Volquez also has a 2.32 ERA in five career starts versus Pittsburgh but only one win to show for his efforts.

He pitched a one-hitter and struck out 10 over seven innings against the Pirates in September but got three runs of support. The Reds bullpen, though, blew a 3-0 lead before an eventual 5-4, 10-inning win.

The Pirates will try to spoil Volquez’s unbeaten start by playing more like they did Friday, when they rapped out 14 hits. They managed only six on Saturday, with Ryan Doumit(notes) and Garrett Jones(notes) combing for four.

Reigning NL MVP Joey Votto(notes) had three hits Saturday for Cincinnati and raised his average to .451. He could continue that red-hot start versus Pirates scheduled starter Jeff Karstens(notes) (1-0, 0.00), against whom he is 5 for 7 with three doubles.

Karstens began the season in the bullpen, but the right-hander returned to the rotation with Ross Ohlendorf(notes) on the disabled list because of an ailing shoulder.

“Hopefully Dorf will get back soon,” he told the team’s website. “Until then, I’ll try to do his job.”

Karstens has made 50 career starts but is 0-4 with a 5.59 ERA in four starts against the Reds.

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Starting Pitchers

J. Karstens Pit vs. E. Vólquez KC
9-9 Record 5-7
3.38 ERA 5.71
96 K 104
33 BB 65
1.21 WHIP 1.57

Scoreboard

Sunday, Apr 17