What's buzzing:

Reds-Pirates Preview

AP - Sports

Joey Votto has been productive since a return from injury - and his Cincinnati Reds teammates are flourishing as well.

Surging Cincinnati looks to return to the .500 mark for the first time in nearly two months Wednesday night against the Pittsburgh Pirates at PNC Park.

With Votto sidelined due to a strained left quadriceps from May 16-June 9, the Reds (34-35) were 11-12, batting .223 while averaging 3.1 runs per game. They've won five of seven with him back in the lineup while batting .294 and averaging 5.3 runs.

Votto is hitting .357 since returning with seven RBIs, though Todd Frazier was the difference-maker in Cincinnati's 6-5 victory Tuesday. Frazier hit his team-leading 16th homer off closer Jason Grilli in the ninth to put the Reds ahead. He has three homers and eight RBIs over his last five games, while Billy Hamilton is 12 for 26 over his last seven.

The continuity granted by Votto's return seems to be breeding success for Cincinnati.

"We're not running out a bunch of different lineups out there," manager Bryan Price told the team's official website. "...And I think there is something to be said about knowing what is expected from you and knowing when you're going to be in there and when you're not."

Price figures to like penciling starter Alfredo Simon (9-3, 2.95 ERA) into Wednesday's lineup after he matched a career high by going eight innings in Thursday's 4-1 win over the Dodgers. Simon allowed seven hits - all singles - and the lone run.

He had completed at least seven innings just seven times in 19 career starts entering this season before doing so six times this year.

"What he's doing that's most surprising to me is pitching effectively into the seventh and eighth innings," Price said. "He's pitching deep into games and continuing to stay aggressive with his stuff."

Simon is 6-1 with a 2.44 ERA in seven road starts, including a 5-2 win at Pittsburgh on April 23 when he yielded two runs - one on a homer by Andrew McCutchen - over 6 2-3 innings with a career-high five walks. He had been 0-2 with a 1.54 ERA over six relief appearances against the Pirates in his career.

McCutchen failed to become the fifth player in club history and first since 1971 with nine straight multihit games, settling for a 1-for-4 performance to extend his hitting streak to 12 games. The Pirates (34-36) have dropped back-to-back games after winning four in a row. They haven't lost three straight since May 15-18.

Edinson Volquez (4-5, 3.89) will get the nod against his former team. He's 3-1 with a 2.48 ERA over his last five starts and comes off an impressive outing, throwing seven innings in a 4-0 victory over the Cubs on Thursday.

Volquez is 1-1 with a 3.55 ERA in four starts against the club he pitched for from 2008-2011, including a 4-1 loss on April 22 when he gave up two runs in seven innings. He was 30-18 with a 4.17 ERA in 74 games for the Reds.

Former teammate Jay Bruce is 5 for 10 against him with a double and a homer.

Starling Marte, who is hitting .459 during an eight-game hitting streak, is 4 for 10 off Simon.

Cincinnati has won six of the last seven meetings overall and four straight in Pittsburgh.

View Comments (3)
  • Blue Jays place 2B Travis on DL, promote Kawasaki

    The Blue Jays laced infielder Devon Travis on the 15-day disabled list Friday because of a sore left shoulder and promoted infielder Munenori Kawasaki from Triple-A Buffalo. Kawasaki is batting ninth and starting at second base against the Seattle … More »

    AP - Sports - 5 minutes ago
  • Rangers put 1B/OF Blanks on disabled list, add OF Smolinski

    Rangers put 1B/OF Blanks on disabled list, add OF Smolinski

    The Texas Rangers have put first baseman/outfielder Kyle Blanks on the 15-day disabled list and recalled outfielder Jake Smolinski from Triple-A Round Rock. Texas manager Jeff Banister said he expected Smolinski would be available Friday night … More »

    AP - Sports - 9 minutes ago
  • McCutchen laughs off leaked pay stub

    McCutchen laughs off leaked pay stub

    Good thing Andrew McCutchen has direct deposit. The Pittsburgh Pirates star centerfielder laughed off a leaked photo of his pay stub Friday, joking he can handle the attention so long as he still gets paid. McCutchen's two-week stub was left … More »

    AP - Sports - 10 minutes ago
  • Baseball-Major League Baseball roundup

    Milwaukee Brewers left-handed reliever Will Smith was suspended eight games by Major League Baseball for having a foreign substance on his right forearm during Thursday night's game. Smith, who was ejected in the seventh inning of a 10-1 loss to … More »

    Reuters - 12 minutes ago
  • Blue Jays rookie Devon Travis's time on disabled list as much mental as physical

    Devon Travis's stint on the disabled list will be as much about his head as his shoulder. Travis was placed on the Toronto Blue Jays' 15-day DL late Thursday night, retroactive to May 17, to recover from left shoulder inflammation. The 24-year-old … More »

    The Canadian Press - 17 minutes ago