CINCINNATI • The Cardinals held on to beat the Cincinnati Reds 1-0 after nearly beating themselves today in the baseball season opener at Great American Ball Park.
Cardinals starter Adam Wainwright walked an uncharacteristic four but struck out nine in seven scoreless innings.
Carlos Martinez fanned Todd Frazier to end the eighth after the Cardinals boxed two double plays in the inning. Closer Trevor Rosenthal fanned two more in the ninth, giving the Cardinals 12 strikeouts for the day, and Yadier Molina's seventh-inning homer off Johnny Cueto stood up for a 1-0 victory.
The win was Wainwright's first opening-day triumph of his career.
"Waino was great," said Molina. "Everything was working for him."
One of the two errors in the eighth and three for the game was committed by rookie second baseman Kolten Wong, who booted a double-play ball hit by Joey Votto.
"Thank God, it's a team sport," said Wong.
Molina said, "We stayed calm. You see those young guys in the bullpen and they don't care what happened out there."
Below are Rick Hummel's Cardinal Beat updates that were posted during today's game:
Martinez bails out shoddy defense
The Cardinals' defense gave the Reds at least five outs in the eighth inning _ and lived to tell about it because Carlos Martinez pitched that inning just as he pitched it last October.
Martinez froze Todd Frazier on strike three, stranding two Cincinnati runners and maintaining a 1-0 lead into the ninth.
But the Cardinals mangled two potential double plays in the warmup act.
After veteran Pat Neshek walked Brandon Phillips on 3-2 pitch to open the eighth, lefthander Kevin Siegrist entered. Siegrist had a 25-inning scoreless streak carrying over from last year and no Reds player on the roster had had a hit off him.
Joey Votto didn't get one either but as second baseman Kolten Wong glided to his right to field Votto's grounder and shovel to second for the start of a double play, he allowed the ball to roll through him for an error, sending Phillips to third and allowing Votto to reach.
First baseman Matt Adams then fielded Jay Bruce's chopper and ran toward Phillips, who was off third, and after Adams tossed to third baseman Matt Carpenter, Phillips was run down for the first out.
With the Reds having runners at second and first, Martinez induced Ryan Ludwick to hit another double play grounder to Wong. This time the rookie fed to shortstop Jhonny Peralta and the latter threw to first. But, as Wong and Peralta were congratulating each other, Adams dropped the throw for the Cardinals' second error of the inning and third of the game.
But this was no problem for Martinez, who gave Frazier no chance.
Molina HR snaps 0-0 tie
Yadier Molina, who, by far, drew the loudest negative reception in the pre-game ceremonies, reintroduced himself in the seventh inning today.
The Cardinals' catcher drilled a Johnny Cueto pitch over the left-center-field wall with one out in the inning to break up a scoreless tie in the between the Cardinals and the Reds. There were some Cardinals' fans cheers amidst a more muted booing as Molina circled the bases.
Cueto had fanned eight before Molina delivered his solo shot. Cardinals starter Adam Wainwright, working the first seven innings, fanned nine, including Billy Hamilton four times, taking away the Reds' stolen base weapon.
After the Cardinals stranded two runners in the eighth, veteran righthander Pat Neshek relieved in the home eighth with lefthander Kevin Siegrist prepared to face lefthanded batsmen Joey Votto and Jay Bruce.
Adams beats shift
Lefthanded-hitting Matt Adams countered an overshifted Cincinnati defense by skimming a ball just past third base to open the fifth inning today. Adams reached second on a double but also remained there.
Jhonny Peralta failed to advance him by trying to hit to the right side. Instead, Peralta grounded to short. Peter Bourjos then lined to short and Cardinals pitcher Adam Wainwright fouled to right.
Wainwright then had to pitch around the Reds having their leadoff man at second in the bottom of the fifth. Brayan Pena was safe on a two-base error by Cardinals center fielder Bourjos, who dropped the ball after going well to his right to make the play.
Reds pitcher Johnny Cueto bunted right to Wainwright, who easily threw out the slow-running Pena at third. Wainwright then recorded his sixth and seventh strikeouts, getting rookie Billy Hamilton for the third time and Brandon Phillips.
A Wainwright wild pitch on a ball in the dirt moved Jay Bruce, who had walked, to second base with two outs in the sixth. Wainwright issued his fourth walk, to Todd Frazier but retired Zack Cozart on a tapper in front of the plate and the game was scoreless after six.
Matheny's intentional walk works
Cardinals manager Mike Matheny issued an early intentional walk today and it worked.
With two out and a man at second in the second inning, Matheny had control artist Adam Wainwright, who wants to walk fewer hitters than starts made, put Cincinnati eighth-place hitter Brayan Pena on with pitcher Johnny Cueto coming up. Cueto struck out on a half-hearted, two-strike bunting attempt.
Wainwright thus was able to survive a brain cramp when he paid no attention to Todd Frazier at first after Frazier had singled with one out. Frazier stole second without a throw
Wainwright struck out five and Cueto six in the first four innings, which ended in scoreless fashion. Wainwright got defensive help from Peter Bourjos, who made a good running catch in the first, and shortstop Jhonny Peralta, who gloved Ryan Ludwick's hard one-hopper to his left in the second.
To end the Reds' third, Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina pounced on a Joey Votto dribbler which was just fair and fired to second to force Brandon Phillips. Votto, who was umpiring instead of playing, didn't run right away and was out easily at first on the back end of the double play.
Bourjos starts in CF
Newcomer Peter Bourjos — and not lefthanded-swinging Jon Jay — will be the Cardinals' center fielder today for the season opener against the Cincinnati Reds.
Bourjos, acquired from the Los Angeles Angels in the David Freese trade, hit .324 for the spring, compared to .188 for Jay, the incumbent, and also represents better defense.
But Jay is 10 for 21 with three homers in his career against righthanded starter Johnny Cueto of the Reds.
"You always want to start," said Jay. "But we've got a lot of depth on this team. There are going to be a lot of different lineups up there and I'm going to stay ready.
"I've done this before," said Jay, who played all the outfield positions in 2011 before taking over for Colby Rasmus as the regular in center field when Rasmus was traded to Toronto in July.
Manager Mike Matheny, explaining today's decision, said, "Jay's had a good run against a very good pitcher. But what we see right now is that Peter Bourjos has had a very good spring.
"What he brings to us defensively is something we're going to see pretty often."
Bourjos, in his first inning in the field, validated his manager's confidence by making a good running catch off Jay Bruce's soft liner in right center to end the inning. The teams were scoreless after one.
Second baseman Kolten Wong and first baseman Matt Adams made their first opening-day starts in the big leagues and shortstop Jhonny Peralta his first for the Cardinals.
Adam Wainwright is seeking his first opening day win in his fourth such start for the Cardinals (one was rained out). Cueto was injured much of last season and won only five games for the Reds.