Reds top the Phillies, 5-3

March 25, 2008 3:02:16 PM PDT
Edinson Volquez all but assured himself a spot in the Cincinnati Reds' starting rotation. Volquez pitched five strong innings, Edwin Encarnacion hit a two-run single and the Reds beat the Philadelphia Phillies 5-3 on Tuesday.

Volquez struck out five and walked one in another impressive outing that lowered his ERA to 2.79 this spring. The 24-year-old right-hander hasn't gotten official word that he's going to be one of Cincinnati's starting five, but it would be an upset if he didn't get the nod.

"Great chance," manager Dusty Baker said with a smile when asked if Volquez locked up a spot.

Acquired from Texas in the trade for outfielder Josh Hamilton in December, Volquez has raised eyebrows in camp. He didn't allow a run in three of his six appearances.

"He looked very good, especially since it was his second time seeing those guys," Baker said. "I like his mound presence and his poise. He's in the strike zone. He throws quality strikes."

Volquez was 3-11 with a 7.20 ERA in 20 games for the Rangers over three seasons. If he's in the rotation, he'll make his next start against the Phillies at Great American Ball Park next weekend.

"I don't know yet, but I hope so," Volquez said.

Phillies starter Kyle Kendrick wasn't nearly as sharp. He allowed five runs and 10 hits in five innings. It was the third time in four starts Kendrick got roughed up. The 23-year-old right-hander bounced back from consecutive poor outings to pitch five scoreless innings against the Pirates last Thursday.

Instead of building on that performance, Kendrick struggled again. He gave up four runs in the first inning.

Kendrick finished his first spring training with a 9.68 ERA after going 10-4 with a 3.87 ERA in 20 starts for the Phillies last season. He'll get one more start against Philadelphia's Triple-A affiliate on Sunday before pitching next Friday at Cincinnati.

"My numbers say I didn't have a good spring," Kendrick said. "I worked on what I needed to work on. I have to take it into the season and have quality starts. Now, it's about going out and having success, not working on anything."

The Phillies scored two runs off Reds closer Francisco Cordero in the eighth to get to 5-3. Geoff Jenkins had an RBI double off his former Brewers teammate, and Pedro Feliz blooped an RBI single.

Phillies assistant general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. wouldn't comment on RHP Kris Benson's contract situation. The deadline to put Benson on the 40-man roster was Tuesday. When it passes, Benson has 24 hours to opt out of his minor league contract and become a free agent. Benson sat out last year following shoulder surgery.

Amaro said Benson could be ready by late May or early June. "He has to build up innings and arm strength," Amaro said. "He has a ways to go." ... Phillies closer Brad Lidge retired all five batters he faced with four strikeouts in a minor league game. Lidge will start the season on the disabled list. ... The Phillies reassigned RHP Gary Knotts and LHP Vic Darensbourg to minor league camp. ... Phillies 2B Chase Utley missed the game for personal reasons.