Volquez roughed up as Reds fall
Cincinnati ace lasts five innings in fifth loss of the season
CINCINNATI -- Edinson Volquez didn't pitch like Edinson Volquez, and his problem was one that confounds managers time and again.
"You hear it all the time," manager Dusty Baker said. "It's location, location, location."
Baker wasn't talking about the housing market either.
What Baker did was give a to-the-point explanation of Volquez's five-inning outing for the Reds in their 8-1 loss Tuesday night to the Milwaukee Brewers.
From start to finish, Volquez showed little command of the strike zone, which left him at the mercy of one of the best hitting teams in the National League. Mercy wasn't something he'd get any of from the Brewers, a team with a week's worth of struggles to jettison.
He kept the basepaths littered with Brewers, and too many of them ended up scoring for the Reds to do anything else but leave Great American Ball Park, loss in tow.
Aside from the second inning, Volquez allowed a Brewers baserunner to reach base every inning he pitched. In the first, he gave up a double to Ryan Braun, an intentional walk to Prince Fielder and two-run triple to Corey Hart, whose rocket to center field sailed far over Corey Patterson's head.
Three innings later, Hart hit another rocket to almost the same spot. It ended up as a double.
"Those were 400-foot line drives," Baker said.
Hart's second liner combined with Mike Cameron's single and Jason Kendall's double sent home two more runs off Volquez, who found himself in a struggle just to keep a 4-1 deficit from growing larger.
He lost that struggle, too.
"I really didn't like my stuff," he said. "Like I said, I was throwing the same sequence to every hitter."
The 25-year-old Volquez never could find his rhythm, and his night ended after five innings and 96 pitches with the Reds trailing, 5-1.
"I think my fastball was my best pitch," he said. "I think every time I get ahead early in the count, I just throw my changeup for a strike. It was hard to throw that pitch in the dirt and make them swing at it."
In essence, he echoed what Baker said: location, location, location. Volquez's inability to locate hurt him badly against Hart.
"Edinson had him waving at a couple of changes and tried to sneak a couple fastballs one time inside, and it got over the plate," Baker said. "Another time outside, and it got over the plate.
"It's just a matter of location."
Yet even if Volquez had had better location, he'd have needed his location honed to a razor's sharpness to counter the performance of Brewers right-hander Dave Bush.
He worked seven almost seamless innings, except for a little trouble he created in the first when the Reds scored their lone run. Bush loaded the bases, but Patterson flied out to left field to end the threat.
Other than that inning, Bush handled the Reds easily.
"We killed a lot of worms tonight," Baker said.
That's not good news when your ace isn't countering with a similar performance. Volquez wasn't the Volquez that Reds fans have seen most of this season. He had to be that pitcher, and more, against a good-hitting team like the Brewers.
"They made pretty good adjustments to me tonight -- taking pitches and taking good swings," Volquez said.
Justice B. Hill is a senior writer for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.