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Rockies Face Edinson Volquez In His First Start Back From Tommy John Surgery

(Sports Network) - One-time Cincinnati staff ace Edinson Volquez makes a long- awaited return to the major leagues tonight, when the Reds host the Colorado Rockies in the middle game of a three-game series at Great American Ball Park.

A 17-game winner in his initial season with the Reds in 2008, Volquez was shelved after just nine starts in 2009 and eventually underwent ligament replacement surgery in his right elbow.

He returned to the mound in the minors while on rehab this season and was dominant, going 4-0 with a 1.45 earned run average in 31 innings across six starts for Single-A Lynchburg of the Carolina League and Triple-A Louisville in the International League.

The return of Volquez, acquired for American League MVP candidate Josh Hamilton prior to the 2008 season, provides a significant boost to the already pitching-rich Reds, who hold a slim one-half game lead over St. Louis in the NL Central.

It's the latest the team has been in first place since the final week of 1999.

On Friday, Bronson Arroyo pitched into the eighth inning and Orlando Cabrera drove in two runs, as Cincinnati opened the second half with a 3-2 win over Colorado.

Arroyo (10-4) let in two runs on five hits while fanning four and walking one to reach double-digit wins for the fourth time in five seasons with the Reds.

The right-hander has won five of his last six decisions, but needed to be bailed out Friday by All-Star reliever Arthur Rhodes in the eighth. With nobody out and the bases loaded, Rhodes got Dexter Fowler on a shallow pop fly and struck out Jonathan Herrera and Carlos Gonzalez.

Francisco Cordero came on for the save in the ninth, his 25th of 2010, while fellow Cincinnati All-Star Brandon Phillips finished with three hits and scored twice for the Reds.

Colorado's Jason Hammel (7-4) suffered his first loss since May 21 - a stretch of 10 starts - despite striking out a career-best 10 batters. In seven innings, he allowed three runs on eight hits with only one walk.

The Rockies go with lefty Jorge De La Rosa in just his second start since April.

The 29-year-old was 3-1 in four April outings before suffering a finger injury that shelved him until a July 9 outing against San Diego.

In that comeback effort, De La Rosa was touched for six hits and seven runs in just 4 1/3 innings, upping his season's ERA from 3.91 to 4.94.

Previously, he'd allowed just 20 hits in 23 innings with 23 strikeouts.

In eight career games against the Reds -- two starts -- De La Rosa is 1-2 with an 8.36 ERA in 14 innings while walking 13 batters.

The Rockies won all seven games versus the Reds last year and have taken nine of 10 and 14 of the last 16 meetings between the teams.