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Cardinals blank Reds in season opener

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The Cincinnati Reds and St. Louis Cardinals both opened their seasons on Monday at Great American Ballpark, but it was the Redbirds and not the Reds who claimed the Opening Day victory 1-0.

Neither team could muster much offense against starters Adam Wainwright (1-0) and Johnny Cueto (0-1). Wainwright went seven innings allowing three hits with nine strikeouts, but did walk four. Cueto countered with seven innings as well, eight strikeouts, but did have one mistake in his final inning to Yadier Molina.

Both pitchers made it through the first inning unscathed despite allowing the second man in the inning to reach base, Kolten Wong walked while Brandon Phillips singled. Cueto worked around a single by Matt Adams by striking out the other three hitters that came to the plate in the second. Wainwright escaped a small jam when Todd Frazier singled and then stole second with one out. He was able to stop the threat by striking out Zack Cozart and Cueto.

The two aces coasted through the third and fourth inning, but allowed the leadoff men in the fifth inning to reach. Cueto started his fifth with a double by Adams, but stranded him there after retiring Jhonny Peralta on a groundball, Peter Bourjos on a linedrive, and Wainwright on a popout. It was Bourjos who aided the Reds (0-1) with one of the Cardinals' (1-0) three errors on the day to allow Brayan Pena to advance to second. Pena was then retired on a sac bunt attempt by Cueto that went awry. Wainwright then struck out Billy Hamilton and Phillips to end the inning.

Cueto pitched a quiet sixth, but Wainwright had to escape a jam with Jay Bruce at second and Frazier at first after walking both. He was able to get Cozart out on a groundball to Molina.

It was Molina who delivered the victory to the Cardinals in the seventh. A lightning rod for Reds fans, Molina riled up the crowd when he launched a ball over the left field wall to plate the only run of the game. Cincinnati was kept quiet in the bottom half of the inning.

The eighth marked a pitching change for both teams as Manny Parra entered the game only to be pulled before the final out in the inning. With two outs Logan Ondrusek had to bail out Parra with runners on first and second by getting the dangerous Matt Holiday to foul out to Joey Votto.

With Wainwright pulled for Pat Neshek the Reds tried to take advantage. Neshek lasted just one hitter when he walked Phillips. The Cardinals then tried to give the game away with Kevin Siegrist on the mound. Votto hit a ground ball up the middle that looked like a double play when the ball went under the glove of Wong and into center field to put runners on the corners. It was a base running mistake by Phillips that cost the Reds a run as Bruce grounded to Adams at first, but Adams made a heads up play and cut off Phillips before he could get to the plate. Adams returned the favor on the next play with Ryan Ludwick facing Carlos Martinez.

Ludwick hit into what was surely a double play, but Adams dropped the throw at first from Peralta to keep the inning alive. Martinez was able to bounce back by getting Frazier to strike out looking with the tying run standing 90 feet away.

Ondrusek was able to keep the Cardinals off the board in the ninth, but Trevor Rosenthal needed just 13 pitches to retire Cozart (strikeout), Pena (strikeout) and pinch hitter Roger Bernadina (flyout) to his first save and the first win for St. Louis.

The two teams will take Tuesday off, but return Wednesday, April 2, for Opening Night. Lefty Tony Cingrani will take the ball for Cincinnati and will square off against Michael Wacha. First pitch is set for 7:10 p.m.

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