(Sports Network) - Edinson Volquez has been providing the Cincinnati Reds the boost the team has been hoping for upon returning from a layoff of over a year. The standout pitcher will attempt to continue the National League Central leader's recent mastery of the Arizona Diamondbacks when he takes the mound for tonight's middle test of a three-game series between the clubs from Chase Field.
Volquez missed the first half of this season while recovering from Tommy John surgery performed the previous summer and struggled early on in his comeback, but seems to have regained the form that garnered him 17 wins and an All-Star appearance in 2008. The hard-throwing righty is 2-0 with an excellent 1.53 earned run average over his past three starts, yielding a just a single run in each of those appearances.
The Dominican native improved to 3-1 on the year after limiting Florida to one run and registering six strikeouts in a six-inning stint this past Friday. He's now fanned 30 batters in 29 2/3 innings since his comeback.
Volquez will be taking on the Diamondbacks for only the second time in his career tonight, with the first meeting taking place in Phoenix during September of 2008. The 27-year-old did issue six walks in that game, but still held the Diamondbacks to a pair of runs and struck out eight in a six-inning no-decision.
Cincinnati enters tonight's tilt with a two-game edge on St. Louis for first place in the NL Central and extended that margin with Tuesday's 6-2 victory over Arizona. The win was the fourth in a row and eighth in the past 11 contests for the Reds.
Paul Janish snapped a 2-2 tie in last night's matchup with a solo homer off D- Backs starter in the seventh inning, helping Bronson Arroyo earn his 13th win of the season. Scott Rolen added three hits and knocked in three runs as Cincinnati got its nine-game West Coast trip off to a strong start.
Arroyo (13-7) did his part by hurling 7 1/3 solid innings, with the veteran right-hander shutting out Arizona after surrendering a two-run homer to Kelly Johnson in the bottom of the first.
Hudson (3-1) was sharp as well, with the rookie racking up a career-best 10 strikeouts in his seven innings of work. He was touched for three runs, however, and suffered his first defeat in four starts since coming over from the Chicago White Sox in a late-July trade.
"Arroyo pitched great, but the young man over there pitched great, too," said Reds manager Dusty Baker. "[Hudson] kept the ball down. Had good velocity. He had us eating out of his hand in the early going."
Tuesday's triumph was Cincinnati's sixth consecutive win at Chase Field, where the club swept a three-game set between these teams last season. The Reds took five of six overall bouts from Arizona in 2009 as well and are now 14-3 in their past 17 games against the Diamondbacks.
Rodrigo Lopez will try to end Cincinnati's reign of dominance in this series, and record an elusive first win since the All-Star break, when he gets the call for Arizona tonight. The journeyman righty is 0-4 with an awful 6.69 ERA in six starts following the Midsummer Classic and has served up nine homers in just 35 innings over that poor stretch.
Lopez was rocked for seven runs in five innings in a loss at Milwaukee last Thursday, which dropped him to 5-11 on the season. He hasn't won since a home verdict over Florida on July 8 in which the 34-year-old permitted four runs (three earned) over seven frames.
In 13 starts at Chase Field so far in 2010, Lopez is just 3-6 with a 4.79 ERA. He's 1-0 in four lifetime encounters with the Reds, but has pitched to a 6.32 ERA over the course of those games.