Cincinnati Reds

Pujols helps spoil Opening Day for Reds

CINCINNATI — The reputed depth of the Cincinnati Reds' bullpen seemed more like a depth charge Monday.

It exploded.

However, the Reds have 161 games to drive an 11-6 opening day loss to the St. Louis Cardinals into the recesses of "so what?" And not all of the bullpen exploded.

A sellout crowd of 42,493, fifth-largest ever at Great American Ball Park, saw Albert Pujols go 4-for-5, with two home runs, four runs scored and three RBI.

Yadier Molina's ninth-inning grand slam put the game out of reach. Colby Rasmus had a solo homer in the fourth inning.

The four home runs is a record for the Cardinals on opening day.

Pujols put on a show in front of the team's new hitting coach, Mark McGwire.

"We had a great spring training with him — his knowledge and the things he talked about with the young guys and myself," said Pujols, who won his third MVP award last season. "We don't want to try to make Mark look good. We're going to try to do the best we can to help our ball club win, and that's what we did. If we're able to do that, we'll make everybody look good."

Pujols tied his career high of four runs scored and tied a franchise opening day record with four hits. He also slugged two home runs the last time he opened a season on the road, in 2006 at Philadelphia. Monday marked his 34th career multi-homer game.

"The long ball's a killer," Reds Manager Dusty Baker said. "It usually doesn't carry that well this time of year."

Well, it's not usually 78 degrees for a 1:10 p.m. start at this time of year.

The Reds also had a pair of homers, fourth-inning solo shots by Joey Votto and Scott Rolen off of Cards right-hander Chris Carpenter (1-0). Rolen had another taken away in the sixth when center fielder Rasmus leaped to get his glove above the Reds' bullpen fence and snag the ball.

Votto had three of the Reds' 11 hits. Drew Stubbs came off the bench and went 2-for-2, with a run and an RBI.

Aaron Harang (0-1), in his fifth consecutive Opening Day start for the Reds, gave up four runs, three earned, on five hits over five innings. His fastball was hitting 93 and 94 mph early and his slider was "great," according to Baker. The manager said he was encouraged "big time" by Harang's outing.

"I made two bad pitches, really, overall," said Harang, who is 1-4 in his opening day role. "One to Rasmussen and one to Pujols. ... Other than that, I felt like I was throwing the ball well. I feel like I got out of some situations early. Overall, it wasn't the best. I wish I could have been out there longer."

Harang also hurt himself in the fifth inning, making an errant pickoff throw to first base that allowed Pujols, who was on third, to score.

"If you make a mistake, he's right on it," Harang said of Pujols. "He's the best hitter in the game. You've got to hope you get him up there with nobody on and take your chances and just go right at him. He makes it tough on a pitcher to get him out."

Mike Lincoln took over for Harang in the sixth. Thanks to a pair of outstanding plays by first baseman Votto, Lincoln survived that inning. Not the seventh, though.

With the Cardinals on top 4-2, Brendan Ryan led off with a single up the middle. Pujols, who homered in the first, hit Lincoln's first pitch for a two-run homer and a 6-2 lead.

After Matt Holliday singled, Lincoln was yanked in favor of Daniel Ray Herrera. He retired three in a row, two by strikeout.

Logan Ondrusak, in his big-league debut, worked a 1-2-3 eighth.

Nick Masset, who gave up only 20 earned runs all of last season, served up the ninth-inning five-spot.

Rasmus singled in Pujols. Molina did the rest with his first career grand slam.

The Reds posted single runs in the seventh and eighth innings. Brandon Phillips added a two-run double in the ninth.

■ Pre-game activities included the annual Findlay Market parade, a military tribute that included the 338th U.S. Army Band's rendition of "America the Beautiful," the national anthem by former Bengals tight end Ben Utecht and a flyover by four F-16 fighter jets. Retired broadcaster George Grande threw the ceremonial first pitch to honorary game captain Johnny Bench.

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