Best With Volquez

Having Edinson Volquez on the mound this year seems to bring out the best in the Cincinnati Reds' lineup.

Volquez looks to move to 5-0, and the Reds try to wake up their struggling bats Friday night when they meet the Atlanta Braves to start a three-game series at Turner Field.

Oddsmakers from have made Atlanta -136 money line favorites (MLB Odds) for tonight's game, the over/under has been set at 8.5 total runs (Matchup). Current public betting information shows that 63% of bets for this game have been placed on Atlanta -136 (View MLB Bet Percentages). Bet this game.

In his first season with Cincinnati (12-17) after being acquired in December from Texas in a trade involving outfielder Josh Hamilton, Volquez (4-0, 1.23 ERA) has emerged as the team's ace. He hopes to become the second Reds pitcher in three years to start 5-0, joining Bronson Arroyo in 2006.

On Sunday, Volquez struck out a career-high 10 over seven innings in the Reds' 10-1 victory over San Francisco. The right-hander was helped by his teammates staking him to a six-run lead in the first inning.

"When you get some runs early you're like, 'It's easy today. Just go out there and do what you do,'" said Volquez, who's received at least eight runs of support in each of his wins.

The Reds swept three games from the Braves in their only visit to Atlanta last year, averaging seven runs in that series. Cincinnati will be looking for more of the same Friday as it has sputtered offensively since Volquez's last start.

Facing NL Central rival St. Louis in its most recent series, Cincinnati dropped two of three and totaled four runs and 12 hits in the defeats. Edwin Encarnacion's team-high seventh homer helped the Reds take an early 2-0 lead Wednesday before they fell 5-2.

Ken Griffey Jr. went 1-for-3, but failed to homer for the sixth straight game. He remains three homers shy of 600, and has hit only one in his last seven visits to Atlanta.

Griffey is batting .294 (5-for-17) with one homer against Tim Hudson (3-2, 3.74), who will try to stay perfect at home for the Braves despite not pitching particularly well there.

In 12 2-3 innings over two starts in Atlanta this year, the right-hander allowed 16 hits and a .320 opponents' batting average, but went 2-0 with a 2.84 ERA in those games.

Hudson was 2-0 with a 2.14 ERA and .167 opponents' batting average in his first three starts of the year. Over his last three starts, he's 1-2 with a 6.39 ERA while allowing opponents to hit nearly .400 against him.

On Saturday, he lasted just three innings for the second straight time on the road, allowing four runs and seven hits en route to a 4-3 loss to the New York Mets.

"It was just one bad game and one bad inning," Hudson told the Braves' official Web site. "I'm not concerned at all. Sometimes you're just going to have those types of games."

The Braves are looking to avoid their fifth straight loss and seventh in nine games. Atlanta dropped its ninth straight one-run contest Wednesday, 3-2 in 12 innings to Washington.

"This team has what it takes to win one-run baseball games," said Mark Kotsay, whose RBI single gave the Braves (12-15) the lead in the top of the 12th. "It's just a matter of executing and having some luck on our side."

Chipper Jones, the NL's leading hitter, went 0-for-5 to drop his average 22 points to .410. Jones has hit safely in 10 straight home games against Cincinnati, batting .405 (17-for-42) with two homers and nine RBIs.


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