AP Sports Writer
CINCINNATI (AP) — Zack Cozart had three hits and drove in the tying run with a sacrifice fly in the eighth inning, and Joey Votto followed with a bases-loaded single that sent the Cincinnati Reds to a 6-2 victory over the Philadelphia Phillies in a Monday opener matching the majors’ two worst teams from last season.
The Reds scored five times in the eighth against Philadelphia’s work-in-progress bullpen. Jay Bruce completed the rally with a two-run double in front of 43,683 fans, the largest regular-season crowd in Great American Ball Park history.
Both teams plunged into a major rebuilding last season, when the Phillies had the worst record in the majors at 63-99 and the Reds were second-worst, only one game better. The Reds’ late rally gave them a pleasant start to the new season.
David Hernandez (0-1) came on for the bottom of the eighth trying to hold a 2-1 lead, but failed to retire a batter, giving up Scott Schebler’s pinch-hit double and a pair of walks. Cozart’s fly ball to right tied it.
Votto fanned his first three at-bats, but singled off left-hander James Russell for a 4-2 lead. Bruce doubled off Hector Neris during the nine-batter rally.
Ross Ohlendorf (1-0) got the win for fanning the only batter he faced.
Freddy Galvis hit a two-run homer, and Jeremy Hellickson allowed only three hits — all by Cozart — in six innings to keep the Phillies ahead until the eighth. Hellickson became only the ninth pitcher to fan Votto three times in a game.
Manager Pete Mackanin had Ryan Howard and Carlos Ruiz in the starting lineup, in part because of sentimental reasons. Ruiz is expected to back up Cameron Rupp at catcher.
Howard’s error let in Cincinnati’s first run — he dropped Galvis’ throw from shortstop in the first inning.
Raisel Iglesias was Cincinnati’s most inexperienced opening-day starter in 36 years, moved up in the rotation when Anthony DeSclafani became one of four Reds starters to go on the disabled list. Iglesias allowed six hits in six innings and fanned seven.
Phillies: Mackanin hopes that limiting Ruiz’s starts will help the 37-year-old catcher stay healthy.
Reds: Manager Bryan Price said that for now, C Devin Mesoraco won’t be behind the plate more than a few games in a row as he fully recovers from hip surgery last season. Mesoraco went 0 for 4. He also got hit on the mask by Maikel Franco’s bat on a swing but stayed in the game.
Phillies: RHP Aaron Nola starts the second game of the series after a day off on Tuesday. Nola, the Phillies’ top pick in the 2014 draft, made 13 starts for Philadelphia last season and went 6-2 with a 3.59 ERA.
Reds: LH Brandon Finnegan makes his fifth start for the Reds, who got him from Kansas City in the Johnny Cueto trade last July. He was 2-2 with a 4.18 ERA with Cincinnati.