Hernandez’s HR leads Reds over Brewers 7-6

The most powerful start in Brewers history was wiped out by a

shocking finish.

Ramon Hernandez hit a two-out, three-run homer in the bottom of

the ninth inning Thursday, rallying the Cincinnati Reds to a 7-6

victory that spoiled one of the best beginnings in Brewers

history.

Milwaukee 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.

”That was a great start,” said Weeks, who also had an RBI

double. ”To come out 1-2 like that with two homers on the board,

that’s great for any ballclub.”

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.

Hernandez got enough of a high fastball from John Axford (0-1)

to send it the opposite way, the ball landing in the Brewers

bullpen in right field for only the second game-ending homer in

Reds opening-day history.

”It seemed like he got a good piece if it, but I wasn’t too

sure,” Axford said. ”It sounded a little different.”

Axford blew only three save chances last season, when he set a

Milwaukee rookie record with 24 saves. A decision by third baseman

Casey McGehee figured into the finish.

Brandon Phillips opened the ninth with a single and Joey Votto

walked. Scott Rolen hit a grounder to McGehee, who tried to tag

Phillips and missed. The third baseman thought Phillips went out of

the baseline, but umpire Dan Bellino called him safe.

”In hindsight, I wish I’d just made a throw to first and not

even worried about him,” McGehee said. ”There were a lot of

positives to come out of it today. With that being said, there’s no

sense losing too much sleep over it.”

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.

NOTES: Hernandez is the fifth Reds player since 1900 to have

four hits on opening day, joining C Bubbles Hargrave (1924), OF

Babe Herman (1936), OF Jim Greengrass (1954) and OF Paul O’Neill

(1989). … Logan Ondrusek got the victory with one inning in

relief. … Reds 1B Joey Votto received his NL MVP award before the

game. He homered and drove in a pair of runs. … The Reds are

65-69-1 on opening day, the Brewers 23-19-1. … The Reds played a

tribute to former manager Sparky Anderson on the videoboard before

the game. Anderson died in November. The Reds are wearing a

”Sparky” patch on their right sleeves. His No. 10 was marked on

the back of the mound.