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CIN@COL: Votto launches his 28th homer of the season

DENVER -- In an inconsistent and disappointing season, Edinson Volquez has gone from Opening Day starter to making two different trips to Triple-A Louisville and back.

His ERA with the Reds hasn't been below 5.48 at any point this season, but never was higher than 2.73 in his two stints for Louisville. So who knew what to expect in his first start since rejoining the Reds' rotation?

What Volquez delivered on Sunday was a solid, but unspectacular five innings, during which he allowed two runs, four hits and four walks. But with the Reds generating little offense following a slugfest on Saturday, Volquez was the losing pitcher in a 4-1 Rockies victory before 39,538 at Coors Field.

"He picked up the tempo some," manager Dusty Baker said about Volquez. "He still had a few walks. But when he left, it was 2-0. We just didn't have a whole lot of offense today. You don't usually see that in Colorado."

Following their five-homer output in a 12-7 loss on Saturday, the Reds managed only seven base runners -- including Joey Votto's 28th homer -- in the finale of a 10-day, nine-game road trip in which they finished 4-5. That wasn't nearly enough to keep Volquez from dropping to 5-5 for the season in his first Reds start since July 5th.

Volquez didn't allow a hit until Ty Wigginton's two-out homer in the fourth, but ran up his pitch count to 95 (56 strikes) in the five innings, as command continues to be the big issue. He has walked 59 in 90 innings with the Reds this season, and could get as many as three more starts to try to solve the problem.

"That's what I'm looking for; walking fewer guys," Volquez said. "I'm trying to go out there and get some confidence back going into next year. I want to try to throw seven innings, and not walk too many people.

It certainly didn't help that Volquez had trouble gripping and throwing his curveball in the dry air and mile-high altitude of Coors Field.

"The breaking ball doesn't break like in other places," Volquez said. "I was trying to throw my curve, and it didn't break like I wanted it to. It's dry; hard to grip the ball."

Meanwhile, making his Major League debut, Rockies left-hander Drew Pomeranz held the Reds to just two singles -- both by second baseman Chris Valaika -- and two walks in five scoreless innings, and allowed only one Red to reach second base.

"We only got two hits off him; you have to be impressed," Baker said about Pomeranz. "The sinker is his best pitch. He threw some decent breaking balls, but his main pitch was the sinker. That's what you need here [in Coors Field]. You need sinkers, to try to keep the ball on the ground.

"We missed a couple of near-shots. I thought [Todd] Frazier's [fly out in the second inning] had a chance to go; I thought Joey's [Votto's flyout in the first inning] had a chance to go."

Pomeranz -- the key to the Rockies-Indians deal involving Ubaldo Jimenez -- also struck out two, and benefited from double-play ground balls in the second and third innings.

"We had him in trouble a couple of times, but he threw a couple of sinkers and got out of trouble," Baker said about Pomeranz. Valaika smacked two singles in his two at-bats before leaving the game with a strained right knee, suffered during a swing in his second at-bat. Little changed when Pomeranz left after five innings and 63 pitches. Jason Hammel, who recently lost his spot in the Rockies rotation, retired the first four hitters he faced, before Chris Heisey lined a triple to right-center field with one out in the seventh.

That created a situation the Reds had only one other time in the game -- a runner in scoring position with less than two outs. But Hammel got Ramon Hernandez to pop out to second base, and Frazier to fly out to center to end the inning.

After surrendering Votto's solo shot with one out in the ninth, Hammel got the final two outs for a four-inning save.

"It was a pretty uneventful day," Baker said. "It kinda looked like the end of a 10-day road trip."

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