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Five-run eighth carries Cincinnati Reds past Philadelphia Phillies

By
Jeff Wallner, The Sports Xchange
Cincinnati Reds shortstop Zack Cozart. UPI Photo/Brian Kersey
Cincinnati Reds shortstop Zack Cozart. UPI Photo/Brian Kersey | License Photo

CINCINNATI -- Zack Cozart hadn't played in a regular-season game since last June, so he wasn't quite sure what to expect when he took the field Monday afternoon.

"It had been so long since I played in a game like this," the Cincinnati Reds shortstop said. "Getting that first hit calmed me down a little bit. I told myself to slow things down. I saw the ball a lot better when I did that."

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Cozart went 3-for-3 with two doubles and an RBI, and Joey Votto's two-run single highlighted a five-run eighth inning as the Reds rallied for a 6-2 victory over the Philadelphia Phillies on Opening Day.

The last time Cozart played at Great American Ball Park on June 10, he sustained a season-ending knee injury while beating out an infield hit against the Phillies.

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On Monday, Cozart put that dark day behind him.

"At the very end of spring training, he wasn't at his best," Reds manager Bryan Price said. "Today, he really shot some balls to right field with authority. We needed him to come through, and he had some great at-bats."

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Freddy Galvis hit a two-run home run and starter Jeremy Hellickson allowed one unearned run in six innings for the Phillies in a losing effort.

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Before the Reds erupted in the eighth, the game was a well-pitched affair with no walks issued in 12 combined innings by the starters -- Hellickson and Reds right-hander Raisel Iglesias.

In the first inning, Phillies leadoff batter Cesar Hernandez greeted Iglesias with a ground-rule double to center. However, Iglesias retired the next three batters.

If the 26-year old Cuban pitcher was nervous Monday, he mostly didn't show it.

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"I caught him the other day on the back fields at spring training, and he looked the same as he did today," Cincinnati catcher Devin Mesoraco said. "He knows how to calm himself down."

Cozart doubled to right to begin the Reds' half of the first. He scored when Phillies first baseman Ryan Howard mishandled a throw from short.

Howard and catcher Carlos Ruiz started for the Phillies on Monday, something manager Pete Mackanin said was a ceremonial gesture.

Philadelphia took the lead 2-1 when Galvis launched a towering two-run homer to right in the second, the first career Opening Day homer.

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It was a positive start for Galvis, who clubbed a career-high seven homers last season. However, that was the extent of the Phillies' offense on Monday.

Philadelphia had the leadoff batter aboard in each of the first three innings, but Iglesias was able to minimize the damage, retiring 13 of 16 following Galvis' homer.

"He pulled that one changeup that Galvis hit to the middle part of the plate," Mesoraco said. "He had everything else going pretty well"

Hellickson, meanwhile, retired eight straight in one stretch, four via strikeout.

Cincinnati had the tying run at third in the fifth following Cozart's double, but Votto struck out for the third time in the game to end the inning.

"You don't give (Votto) the same pitch twice," Hellickson said. "You mix it up as best you can."

Votto, however, came through in the eighth.

Trailing 2-1, the Reds loaded the bases with no outs against David Hernandez, who was lifted in favor of lefty James Russell.

Cozart's sacrifice fly tied the score 2-2.

The bases were loaded again with one out and Votto at the plate.

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There would be no strikeout this time for the Reds first baseman, who laced a single to center, driving in two runs to put Cincinnati ahead 4-2.

"That's why they pay me the big bucks," Votto said. "That's something I pride myself on, not taking a (poor) at-bat to the next at-bat. The fact that I struggled the first three at-bats, I learned from those."

Hernandez (0-1) was charged with all three runs.

"I felt I was loose and ready," said Hernandez, who didn't record an out. "I just couldn't throw the ball anywhere near the plate. It's a waste of a good start."

Jay Bruce capped off the five-run rally with a two-run single off Hector Neris, making the score 6-2.

"You need that eighth- and ninth-inning guy," Mackanin said. "We're searching right now to find the right formula, and the formula didn't work today."

Cincinnati right-hander Ross Ohlendorf (1-0) struck out the only batter he faced to earn the victory.

NOTES: Zack Cozart is the first Reds shortstop with three hits on Opening Day since Barry Larkin in 2001. ... Phillies RHP Jeremy Hellickson is only the ninth pitcher to strike out Reds 1B Joey Votto three times in a game. ... The crowd of 43,683 fans was the largest regular-season attendance in the history of Great American Ball Park. ... The Reds recalled RHP Robert Stephenson from Triple-A Louisville on Monday and announced he will make his first career start Thursday afternoon. ... RHP Raisel Iglesias was the second Cuban-born pitcher to start Opening Day for the Reds, and the first since Dolf Luque in 1921 and 1928. ... The Phillies and Reds met for the seventh time on Opening Day, the first time since 1986.

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