MLB

Iannetta's bases-loaded single in 13th sends Angels over Reds

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Associated Press
4/1/2013 9:44:00 PM
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CINCINNATI, Ohio -- In a game so long that everything became blurred, catcher Chris Iannetta had one thing clearly in mind when he dug in for his final at-bat.

Don't strike out again.

He didn't. Iannetta singled with the bases loaded in the 13th inning Monday, sending the Los Angeles Angels to a 3-1 victory over the Cincinnati Reds in an opener that set a few records and emptied both bullpens and benches.

"Not what you script for the first day going on," said Iannetta, who caught all 13 innings.

The first interleague season opener in major league history showed what happens when first games are played in Ohio. Last year, the Blue Jays beat the Indians 7-4 in 16 innings in Cleveland, the longest opener in major league history.

This one was a fitting follow-up at the other end of the state. And Iannetta was in the middle of it.

He hit a solo homer in the third inning off Johnny Cueto, then grounded out and struck out three times, including with the bases loaded in the seventh inning to keep it tied at 1.

"It was a long day at that point," Iannetta said. "I'd had some pretty forgettable at-bats. I was just trying not to strike out."

Hoover walked two and hit Hank Conger -- the Angels' final position player -- to load the bases with two outs. Iannetta worked the count full, fouled off a couple pitches, then singled to left.

With that, the Reds were headed to a loss in their longest season opening game since 1975, when they beat the Dodgers 2-1 in 14 innings.

"That was a heck of an opening day game," Hoover said. "It would have been better if we'd have come out on top."

Mark Lowe pitched two innings for the win. Ernesto Frieri, the Angels' seventh pitcher, completed an impressive showing by the Angels' bullpen, which allowed only one hit over the final seven innings.

A team that sunk $125 million into acquiring outfielder Josh Hamilton to upgrade its offence pulled this one out with a bullpen that has a few questions to start the season.

"I've been hearing some mixed stories about whether that's going to be our weak point," said starter Jered Weaver, who allowed two hits in six innings and gave up a run on a wild pitch. "That's what it's going to take to win some key games."

Angels pitchers fanned 13 in all, their highest total on opening day.

Shin-Soo Choo had a solid debut at the Reds' leadoff hitter, reaching three times. He doubled in the third and came around on a ground out and Weaver's wild pitch.

The Reds also suffered their first injury of the season on the run-producing play. Left fielder Ryan Ludwick dislocated his right shoulder while sliding headfirst into third base on Weaver's wild pitch. He'll have an MRI on Tuesday to determine the severity.

"The ground was a little wet, and when I hit the ground my hand stopped," Ludwick said. "Normally, it slides with you. My shoulder popped out. This wasn't the best opening day."

The bulllpens decided an opener between two teams that think they can contend for the playoffs right from the first pitch -- which was a 92 mph fastball by Cueto for a called strike.

The Angels' biggest off-season move was signing Hamilton, who had a nostalgic start to the season. He started his comeback in Cincinnati on opening day 2007 after years of drug abuse.

He got a standing ovation that day before his pinch-hit appearance in 2007, a fly out. Hamilton got another loud ovation on Monday from fans who wished he'd stayed for more than a year. Cincinnati traded him to Texas after one season.

Hamilton was 0 for 4 with a pair of walks. Albert Pujols also failed to get a hit, leaving the Rangers with nothing out of their power spots.

Nobody on the Reds looked forward to the opener more than Cueto, who strained muscles in his side on his eighth pitch in the playoff opener last year. He had to sit and watch as the Reds blew a two-game advantage and lost to the Giants in the first round, in part because his injury left the rotation in disarray.

Fully healed, the right-hander was back on his game. He gave up three hits and fanned nine, including Iannetta and pinch-hitter J.B. Shuck with the bases loaded in the seventh to keep it tied at 1.

NOTES: It was sunny and 47 degrees at the first pitch. The crowd of 43,168 was the largest at Great American Ball Park for a regular-season game. ... Joe Torre, who managed the U.S. team in the World Baseball Classic, threw a ceremonial pitch to Reds 2B Brandon Phillips, who played on the team. ... Weaver became the first AL starter to bat on opening day since Pat Dobson (Orioles) and Mel Stottlemyre Sr. (Yankees) in 1972. Weaver struck out twice, leaving Angels pitchers 1 for 29 all-time on opening day. ... The 4-hour, 45-minute game was the longest opener in Angels history. ... Cueto's nine strikeouts were the most by a Reds pitcher on opening day since Mario Soto struck out 10 in 1982.

Chris Iannetta (Photo: The Canadian Press)

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(Photo: The Canadian Press)
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