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Cincinnati Tries To Maintain NL Central Lead

(Sports Network) – Dominican right-hander Edinson Volquez aims for a second straight Cincinnati gem today, when the Reds continue a three-game series against the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field.

Cincinnati maintained its half-game lead over St. Louis for first place in the National League’s Central Division in Friday’s opener, as it got seven scoreless innings from Bronson Arroyo and a two-run homer by Ryan Hanigan in a 3-0 decision.

Brandon Phillips knocked in the other run for the Reds, who have won five of six.

Arroyo (12-6) scattered five hits and walked just one with seven strikeouts to post his fifth win in seven starts. Francisco Cordero turned in a scoreless ninth for his 30th save.

Tom Gorzelanny (6-6) pitched well in defeat, allowing four hits and three runs over seven full frames. He fanned five but issued four walks for the Cubs, who skidded to their eighth loss in nine games.

Volquez, who missed the initial half of the season while recovering from ligament replacement surgery in his right elbow, has been up and down in four starts since his return, allowing 17 hits and 12 runs in 17 innings.

He’s managed two victories in those four starts, including a five-inning stint against Atlanta on Aug. 1 in which he allowed three hits and a run and emerged with a 2-1 triumph.

He allowed three hits and a run in six innings of his initial start against Colorado on July 17 for an 8-1 win, but was raked for 11 hits and 10 runs over just six innings in a subsequent loss and no-decision against Washington and Milwaukee, respectively.

Volquez has won two career starts against the Cubs while posting a stingy 0.75 earned run average in 12 innings, yielding eight hits and a run with 17 strikeouts.

Chicago replies with right-hander Randy Wells, who improved to 3-0 lifetime against the Reds thanks to a 3-1 win at Wrigley on July 3.

In that outing, the Illinois-born Wells allowed five hits and a run with five strikeouts in 7 2/3 innings.

In five career starts in this series, he’s given up 30 hits and eight earned runs in 31 1/3 innings with a 2.30 ERA.

Wells has won just once in five starts since the defeat of the Reds, including consecutive losses to Houston and Milwaukee in which he’s been tagged for 15 hits and 10 runs in 9 2/3 innings.

He’s 3-4 in 12 home starts in 2010.

Cincinnati has had its way with the Cubs this season, winning eight of the 11 matchups.