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Solo shot beats Reds in season opener
Cardinals pin first season opening shutout loss on Reds in 62 years
, AP Baseball Writer
Tuesday, April 01, 2014 11:00 AM
CINCINNATI - The Reds were unable to score after they put a runner on third with no outs. And for the first time in 61 years, they ended up getting blanked on opening day.
Yadier Molina broke a seventh-inning tie with a home run and made a pair of slick defensive plays on Monday, leading the defending National League champion St. Louis Cardinals to a 1-0 victory.
The Reds were shut out in their season opener for the first time since 1953, ending the second-longest streak in major league history. The Phillies went 62 years without being blanked in an opener from 1911-72.
"If you had told me we would allow just one run on a solo shot, I'd take that every day, especially with our lineup," catcher Brayan Pena said.
Adam Wainwright (1-0) used his refined sinker to finally get the best of the Reds, who have hit him like no other team. Wainwright allowed three hits in seven innings, fanning nine.
"I've never pitched great against the Reds," said Wainwright, who went 1-3 against Cincinnati last season with a 7.77 ERA. "Today I wanted to make the emphasis on executing pitches. I tried to simplify it as much as possible."
St. Louis escaped a threat in the eighth, when the Reds had runners on first and third with nobody out. Trevor Rosenthal retired all three batters in the ninth, finishing a three-hitter.
"We weren't able to get a hit there," said Bryan Price, who lost his managing debut. "It was disappointing, but there will be more disappointments along the way."
During pregame introductions, Molina got by far the loudest boos from the crowd of 43,134 - the second-largest for a regular-season game in Great American Ball Park history. Fans still haven't forgiven the five-time All Star catcher for a 2010 brawl at home plate with Brandon Phillips.
They were booing again after his first-pitch homer in the seventh, his second career off Johnny Cueto (0-1). It was one of only three hits off Cueto in seven innings.
Wainwright won 19 games and finished second in the NL Cy Young Award voting last season, when he had his biggest trouble with the Reds. He refined a sinker in spring training and was in control on a breezy, 64-degree afternoon. He fanned new Reds leadoff hitter Billy Hamilton four times.
"He's a great pitcher," Hamilton said. "That's the first time I faced him. I've watched other hitters against him, but that's not the same as facing him yourself. It was a learning experience for me."
The Reds' best chance came in the eighth, when the Cardinals committed two errors. Phillips became the first Reds runner to reached third base, but was caught in a rundown on Jay Bruce's grounder. Carlos Martinez fanned Todd Frazier for the final out, stranding a runner at third.
Cueto's third straight opening-day start was a reminder that it's a matter of staying healthy. He was on the disabled list three times last season, limited to 11 starts. He changed his delivery slightly to try to avoid injury, and was on the mark on opening day until Molina connected.
"Johnny was terrific," Price said. "You're accustomed to that type of performance. Not only was he healthy, he seemed free-and-easy. He was letting it go. He gave us a great chance to win."
There were no close plays that merited replays.
NOTES: Closer Aroldis Chapman rode in Cincinnati's opening day parade Monday, the most he was allowed to do as part of the Reds' first-game festivities. Chapman can't work out while he recovers from a significant head injury during spring training. He had surgery on March 20 to have a plate installed above his left eye, fractured by a comeback liner during a game He'll see a doctor on Wednesday to gauge his progress. He said he feels good and has no pain. The Reds think he'll be able to return in May. Cincinnati's last shutout loss on opening day was a 2-0 loss to the Milwaukee Braves. ... Former Reds SS Barry Larkin and Dave Concepcion threw ceremonial pitches. ... Hits king Pete Rose attended the game.
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