"He's one of the few pitchers around who can get the strikeout to get himself out of trouble," Reds manager Dusty Baker said. "You can understand now why he's 4-0."
Volquez stands out as the only Reds pitcher with more than one victory this season. Acquired in a trade last December from Texas, Volquez allowed one run on five hits to extend his run of perfection to begin the season.
"That kid's got a great arm," San Francisco manager Bruce Bochy said of the 24-year-old Reds right-hander. "We knew it coming into the game. He's been throwing the ball well and we knew we needed a well-pitched game."
That they did not get from Barry Zito, who was hammered for six runs in the first inning and gave up eight overall in a three-inning stint that dropped him to 0-6. Zito became only the third big league pitcher to go 0-6 in April since 1956. Dave Stewart (1984) and Mike Maroth (2003) also have that dubious distinction.
"We haven't really jumped anybody like that in a long time, but that's what you want to do," Baker said. "Zito wasn't sharp. He wasn't the Zito I've seen and you want to take advantage of that."
The Reds did that in a hurry, sending 10 men to the plate in the opening inning. It was just the third time in the last 12 games that the Reds had scored before their opponent.
"I was excited because before I had even thrown one pitch in the game, there were six runs on the board," Volquez said.
Phillips, who had his first multi-homer game of the season and fourth of his career, started the scoring when his high pop glanced off the glove of backpedaling second baseman Eugenio Velez for an RBI single. Joey Votto added a two-run single, Ryan Freel contributed a two-run single and Bako added a run-scoring triple.
Volquez, who drove in his first career run with a groundout in the top of the third, registered four strikeouts in the first two innings. He got out of a one-out, bases-loaded jam in the bottom of the third by inducing John Bowker to pop up and getting Jose Castillo to ground out.
Volquez said he especially benefited from being able to get his curveball over for first-pitch strikes. Bako begged to differ.
"I don't want to disagree. But I think his fastball and changeup were his two best pitches," said Bako. "It's hard to argue with his results, though. If he can keep repeating his delivery, like he's been doing, he's going to be great all year."
Volquez doesn't want to get ahead of himself, but he certainly likes the way the season is going so far.
"When you go 4-0, you've got to be happy," he said.
He added that he believes there's more to come, from him and from the Reds. The victory was the Reds' second straight, allowing them to take the opening series in their nine-game road swing. The trip picks up again Monday in St. Louis.