Hernandez, Votto lead Reds past Brewers
Canadian Axford gives up game-winning home run, Votto goes deep for Reds
The Brewers got off to a powerful start, and the defending National League Central champions had the big finish.
One game in, the Reds are at it again.
Ramon Hernandez hit a two-out, three-run homer in the bottom of the ninth inning Thursday, rallying Cincinnati to a 7-6 victory over Milwaukee in an opening-day flashback to its championship season.
"I've played 12 years, and this is the most amazing opening day," said Hernandez, who ended it with his fourth hit. "To get that type of win is great, and to do it on a day like today gets people even more excited. It's amazing."
Quite a start. Quite a finish.
The Brewers became the first team in 42 years to open the season with back-to-back homers when Rickie Weeks and Carlos Gomez connected off Edinson Volquez. Ryan Braun also had a solo shot, helping Milwaukee take a 6-3 lead to the ninth.
That's when the Reds reverted to their winning ways of 2010. Their first six wins last season came in their final at-bat, tying the major league record. Appropriately, they clinched the division title at home on Jay Bruce's game-ending homer.
They began the new season with only the second game-ending homer in Reds opening-day history — Joe Randa beat the Mets with one in 2005.
"I've never seen an opening day like that," said Dusty Baker, who won his first opener in four years as the Reds manager. "I've seen a guy hit a homer to start the game, but I've never seen the first two guys hit homers.
"That was about as dramatic a finish as you can have, especially ending the season the way we did last year and then starting it the same way this year."
The Brewers were leading by three before John Axford (0-1) let it get away. He blew only three save chances last season, when he set a Milwaukee rookie record with 24 saves.
Hernandez hit an opposite-field line drive that set off a familiar Reds scrum at home plate.
"It seemed like he got a good piece if it, but I wasn't too sure," Axford said. "It sounded a little different."
The next sound he heard was a collective scream from what remained of the crowd of 42,398 — many had left on a cold, raw afternoon. Hernandez's homer was the last of six in the game, the only one that wasn't a solo shot.
The Brewers have designs on overtaking the NL Central champions after changing managers — Ron Roenicke took over for Ken Macha — and adding Zack Greinke and Shaun Marcum to their rotation. They let a chance to take first place get away.
The 41-degree first pitch made for the second-coldest opener in Great American Ball Park's nine-year history, prompting fans to bundle in coats and blankets. Volquez warmed up wearing a red hooded sweatshirt.
Then, the Brewers got off to the majors' most sizzling start in decades.
Weeks extended his spring tear with his 22nd career leadoff homer. He led the Brewers with a .442 average and one homer during spring training. Fast starts are no surprise for him — Weeks hit a club-record eight leadoff homers last season.
When Gomez homered into the upper deck two pitches later, the Brewers became the first team in the majors to start a season with a pair of homers since Cincinnati's Pete Rose — who watched from a seat behind home plate on Thursday — and Bobby Tolan connected off Don Drysdale in 1969. Drysdale didn't allow another run in that one, winning 3-2.