He was headed to Yankee Stadium.
Volquez lasted six innings Sunday to get the victory on the day he was picked for his first All-Star game, the Reds’ lone representative after right fielder Ken Griffey Jr. faded out of the picture in the final voting. He got the news when he was lifted for a pinch hitter during a 6-5 victory over the Washington Nationals.
“Everybody has dreams,” said Volquez, who came to the Reds last December in the trade for outfielder Josh Hamilton, an AL All-Star. “A lot of pitchers want to win the Cy Young or go to the All-Star game. This is one of mine.”
Adam Dunn hit a three-run homer that started Cincinnati’s comeback, and the Reds held on to complete a four-game sweep against a team that had trouble scoring all series.
Volquez (11-3) was a little off with his control, but repeatedly pitched out of threats in six innings against the NL’s worst offensive team. The Nationals are last in batting average, hits and runs.
“We should have won the game,” Nationals manager Manny Acta said, with an edge to his tone. “We caught Volquez on one of his bad days. We should have scored eight runs against him.”
It turned into just another bad day for the Nationals, who have lost 11 of 15.
Both teams were in last place—the Nationals in the East, the Reds in the Central—when they opened the series. The Reds rolled to their first four-game sweep in two years, and their first four-game sweep of the Nationals since 1973, when the franchise was in Montreal.
The four-game winning streak is Cincinnati’s second-longest of the season.
Right-hander Collin Balester (1-1) ran into problems the second time through Cincinnati’s batting order. The 21-year-old rookie made his second start in the majors and retired the first 11 batters. Ken Griffey Jr. walked with two outs in the fourth, Brandon Phillips singled and Dunn hit an down-and-in fastball for his 22nd homer, tying it at 3.
“On that pitch, I was trying to go up and in,” Balester said. “If I make that pitch, you never know what’s going to happen. If you make a mistake, they’re going to make you pay.”
There were plenty of bad decisions and bad choices on both sides.
“It wasn’t pretty,” Reds manager Dusty Baker said. “We made a lot of mistakes. We won the ballgame, but it’s hard to enjoy it.”
David Ross doubled home the tiebreaking run in the fifth, and first baseman Dmitri Young misplayed Volquez’s sacrifice bunt for an error that set up another run. Catcher Paul Lo Duca moved to first base for the eighth inning and had an error that led to Jerry Hairston Jr.’s run-scoring single for a 6-3 lead.
Guzman, who extended his hitting streak to 14 games, is Washington’s representative for the All-Star game.
“It’s the last year at Yankee Stadium,” Guzman said. “All the players want to go over there.”
The Nationals played without outfielder Elijah Dukes, who hurt his right knee when he ran into the outfield wall on Saturday night. Dukes will have surgery Monday to repair torn cartilage and a partially torn patella tendon. He’ll be sidelined for four to six weeks.
Washington had a chance to take a big early lead against Volquez, who hit Balester’s pitching hand as he tried to bunt in the third inning, then walked three. The Nationals scored three runs, the last on Young’s bases-loaded walk. Lo Duca grounded into an inning-ending double play.
The Nationals didn’t immediately make a move to replace Dukes on the roster. Dukes will become the 15th Nationals player to go on the DL this season. … Guzman also made the 2001 All-Star game with Minnesota. … Young had a sore back and left in the eighth for pinch-runner Aaron Boone, who later left the game with a tight calf. … Volquez is 6-0 in nine starts at Great American Ball Park, where he has allowed only one home run. … Reds SS Jeff Keppinger extended his slump to 0-for-22.