No Opening Day win for Reds
D-backs' three solo shots too much for Cincy to overcome
CINCINNATI -- Dusty Baker came to town with 1,162 victories on his managerial resume. But Baker will have to wait a little longer for win No. 1 as skipper of the Reds.Thin hitting against Brandon Webb and a bumpy third inning for ace Aaron Harang ensured a downer of an Opening Day outcome during a 4-2 Reds loss to the Diamondbacks before a sold-out crowd of 42,498 fans at Great American Ball Park on Monday. "You want to start off 1-0," Baker said of his first game in Cincinnati. "It's always disappointing to lose. We'll get it together [Wednesday]. We'll come back smoking." The Reds managed just three hits in the game, none after Harang legged out a leadoff infield single in the fifth inning. With his sinker and changeup keeping everyone off balance, Webb (1-0) allowed two earned runs and three hits over his six innings with four walks and six strikeouts. Reds batters struck out 10 times overall. "He did his job. Give it to him," said second baseman Brandon Phillips, who went 1-for-4 with a triple that went as his team's only extra-base hit. "He's their No. 1 starter for a reason. He showed us today. We have to make sure we write down what he threw us this time, and then when we face him again later this season, we have to [get] him." It took one regular-season game before Baker had to take a player aside for a mental mistake, and it happened following the Reds' first hit of the game. In the third inning, Javier Valentin led off with a long drive to right field. Thinking the ball was headed over the fence, Valentin started in a slow trot. The ball landed short and rattled off the wall, and the Reds catcher was limited to a single instead of potential extra bases. "I thought it had a chance. Not today," said Valentin, who had another long drive to the wall caught in the seventh. The next batter in the third, Harang, did not get a sacrifice bunt down and struck out while attempting to bunt. Valentin would end up being stranded. His manager was left displeased. "Whenever you play close games, especially against these guys, you have to take advantage of almost every situation," Baker said. "Our pitchers bunted a lot, but they didn't see live action much in Spring Training. And I've addressed the other situation already." According to Valentin, it was a big 10-4 following a chat with Baker.
"He's right. If I run right away, maybe I'd have a better opportunity to get a double," Valentin said. "That's not going to happen anymore."What's also likely to not happen often is Harang giving up two home runs and two walks in one inning. With one out in the top of the third, Chris Young lifted a 2-1 pitch for a solo home run to left field. There were two outs when a first-pitch fastball away trailed back in. Byrnes sent it into the left-field seats for another Arizona homer and a 3-0 lead. "Those two were the biggest pitches of the game. They cost me," Harang said. "I was just missing in that inning off the plate -- my slider and fastball both. Luckily, they were both solo ones." Following Byrnes' homer, Harang immediately walked back-to-back hitters but escaped without more damage. The Reds' ace retired the next 10 batters in a row. "His pitch count got kind of high in that one inning," Baker said. "He found the center of the plate, which isn't typical Aaron. He lost his release point very briefly and then got it back. The damage had been done." An unearned first-inning run accounted for the first scoring against Harang. Third baseman Edwin Encarnacion made a nice pick on Orlando Hudson's sharp ground ball but threw the ball high to first baseman Scott Hatteberg for an error. Two batters later, Conor Jackson rolled an RBI single up the middle for a 1-0 Diamondbacks lead. Coming off of a 59-minute rain delay at the game's start, the infield grass was soggy. Even though Encarnacion has a history of ugly throwing errors, Baker didn't deem this as one of them. "That's not a fundamental error. That was a physical error," Baker said. "At that time, the field was extremely wet. When that field is wet, you hate for the ball to be hit to you." A two-run bottom of the fourth against Webb got the Reds on the scoreboard. Ken Griffey Jr. drew a leadoff walk and scored on Phillips' RBI triple that got past Young in center field. Phillips scored on Adam Dunn's groundout to second base. "The only chance to score runs, we scored them," Dunn said. "When a guy like [Webb] is on, he's as tough as there is. He made it very tough. He's obviously one of the premier pitchers in the game. He doesn't give you much to hit. He's very good."
Mark Sheldon is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.