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CIN@CLE: Votto crushes a homer to center in the first

CLEVELAND -- It's now a season-high five-game losing streak for the Reds, but it feels more like a grease fire and containment is suddenly proving difficult.

Edinson Volquez was erratic again and lasted only 2 2/3 innings as the Reds absorbed a 12-4 loss on Sunday to the Indians to get swept three games in their first Interleague series. In a surprise after the game, Volquez took an unprovoked swipe at his offense's performance.

"I think everybody has to step up and start getting some runs," Volquez said. "The last five games, we've scored how many runs? Thirteen [actually 12] in five games? It's not the way we were playing last year. We're better than that."

Those were curious words from Volquez considering he allowed seven runs (six earned) with seven hits, four walks, one hit batter and three strikeouts. He has a 3-3 record this season but his ERA is a bloated 6.35.

Joey Votto's two-out, solo home run in the top of the first inning off of Carlos Carrasco gave the Reds a 1-0 lead. It was Votto's first homer since April 27, a span of 21 games. That's about where the good news ended.

Cincinnati's fortunes turned sour in the bottom of the first as Volquez labored through a 36-pitch inning.

"Part of that was his doing and part of that was our doing," Reds manager Dusty Baker said.

It started with a Michael Brantley chopped infield single that third baseman Scott Rolen couldn't barehand. Asdrubal Cabrera, who had a career high five hits in the game, followed by hitting a 1-0 fastball over the heart of the plate to right-center field for a two-run homer, his first of two in the game. Shin-Soo Choo added a double to left field.

Travis Buck next drew a one-out walk and attempted to steal second base. Catcher Ramon Hernandez's throw beat Buck to the bag and forced him to turn around. Brandon Phillips gave chase, missed a tag and threw to the plate as Choo broke for home. Choo scampered back to third base, but Hernandez fired a wild throw that traveled all the way down the left-field line, allowing two runs to score.

Two more walks followed with two out, but Baker resisted pulling the plug on Volquez. Volquez has an 18.00 ERA in the first inning this season and a 3.51 ERA after the first.

"It's tough to keep going to your bullpen that early and you keep hoping he'll give us some innings, so it didn't tear up everybody out there," Baker said. "We have 10 days in a row before we get an off day."

Three-straight hits began the Cleveland second inning, including a Choo RBI single that rolled through the right side. In the third inning, Volquez hit first batter Austin Kearns and threw a wild pitch before he walked Lou Marson. That led to two more runs coming across and finished Volquez's day.

"We've got too many starts, too many games coming up," Volquez said. "I will try to get better."

The question is whether the Reds would even give Volquez another start to make that adjustment.

"We're mulling that around now," Baker said. "Last time, he was a lot better. This outing, he didn't start off well again. We've got discuss what to do."

If Volquez is replaced, one candidate seemingly could be Sam LeCure, who provided 3 1/3 innings of strong relief. For the first time in seven relief appearances since leaving the rotation, LeCure allowed a run. It came in the sixth inning when Cabrera led off with his second homer of the day.

"Asdrubal Cabrera was a one-man show at the plate today," Indians manager Manny Acta said.

If the Reds looked to Triple-A Louisville, Dontrelle Willis and Matt Maloney are pitching well. Willis had an abbreviated start on Saturday, however, after being hit in the leg by a bat. Mike Leake did not have a good first outing after being sent out.

The Reds have other problems on their hands, especially since the road trip moves to Philadelphia next for four games. They are 11-23 the last five seasons against the Phillies and were swept in four games there last season. No doubt they are longing for the salad days of the five-game win streak and winning eight of nine games that came before the current skid.

"It doesn't get any easier in Philadelphia, obviously, when we face those guys," Rolen said. "We can't make up a series. We've got our hands full in Philadelphia and Atlanta both. We will try to play a little better baseball and hopefully try to win a series there."

While not being the right guy perhaps to articulate the issue, Volquez was right that the offense is struggling. The Reds are batting only .207 (34-for-164) during the losing streak.

The first-place Phillies will start lefty Cole Hamels against the Reds Monday. Hamels is 6-0 with a 1.07 ERA lifetime vs. Cincinnati, not including the five-hit shutout he dealt against them in the playoffs. Later in the series lurks Roy Halladay, who threw the second postseason no-hitter in history against Cincinnati last year.

Oh brother.

"Obviously, you never want to start a road trip 0-3 but at the same time, it's not like we're way out of the race," left fielder Chris Heisey said. "It's still early. We've still got time and we're going to bounce back."

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