April 7, 2008

Volquez, Keppinger Key Reds Win



Edison Volquez struck out eight in his Cincinnati debut and Jeff Keppinger went 3-for-5 with a homer, double, 3 RBIs and three runs scored as the Reds drubbed the Phillies, 8-2, on Sunday.

Volques (1-0) walked two and scattered five hits, all of which stayed in the ballpark. He threw 95 pitches, 58 for strikes. This was not quite as sensational as teammate Johnny Cueto’s major league debut, but plenty good enough to keep the Reds in the game while the offense built a 4-1 lead against Phillies starter Brett Myers (0-1) on Ken Griffey’s two-run homer in the first inning, a solo shot by Keppinger leading off the bottom of the third, and an RBI double by Corey Patterson in the fourth.

Griffey’s blast was his first of the season and the 594th of his career, leaving him six dingers shy of becoming just the sixth player in history to reach the 600-homer plateau. Barry Bonds, Hank Aaron, Babe Ruth, Willie Mays and Sammy Sosa are the five who have already done it. Myers became the 378th different pitcher to serve up a gopher ball to Griffey.

The Reds broke it open in the sixth, laying a four-spot on Phillies reliever Clay Condrey. Keppinger did most of the damage with a two-run double, and Adam Dunn added an RBI single. By then the Reds’ revamped bullpen had taken over and contributed 3-2/3 innings of one-run relief, with Todd Coffey pitching a 1-2-3 ninth to slam the door on any comeback hopes for Philadelphia.

The win left the Reds (4-2) in second place in the NLC, a game behind the Cardinals and Brewers and a game up on the Cubs and Pirates, with the Astros alone in the basement.

The Phillies’ lone run off Volquez came in the fifth inning when Carlos Ruiz led off the inning with a double, took third on a sacrifice by Myers, and scored as Jimmy Rollins grounded out. You’d like to see a little more mileage out of 95 pitches, I guess – but a win and only one run allowed is quite a bit more than we’ve been able to reasonably expect from a Reds #5 starter in recent memory. Thus, as the Phillies probably said in the fourth inning when Keppinger grounded a ball off his foot down the third base line, and the umps missed it, ruling what should have been a foul ball fair and resulting in a free out for the Phillies, “We’ll take it.”

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