CINCINNATI (AP) — Chris Iannetta hit a solo homer and a bases-loaded single in the 13th inning Monday, powering the Los Angeles Angels to a 3-1 victory over the Cincinnati Reds in the majors’ first interleague season opener.
Both teams emptied their benches and bullpens before Iannetta — who caught all 13 innings — finally provided the breakout hit.
The Angels loaded the bases with two outs in the 13th off J.J. Hoover, who walked two and hit Hank Conger, the Angels’ final position player. Iannetta worked the count full, fouled off a pair of pitches, then singled to left.
Mark Lowe pitched two innings for the win. Ernesto Frieri, the Angels’ seventh pitcher, finished off the Reds’ longest opening game since 1975, when they beat the Dodgers 2-1 in 14 innings.
For the second straight season, an opener in Ohio went long. The Blue Jays beat the Indians 7-4 in 16 innings last year in Cleveland, the longest opener in major league history.
Reds starter Johnny Cueto gave up three hits in seven innings, including Iannetta’s solo homer in the second. The Angels’ Jered Weaver allowed two hits in six innings, giving up a run on a wild pitch.
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 suffered their first injury of the season. Left fielder Ryan Ludwick dislocated his right shoulder while sliding headfirst into third base on Weaver’s wild pitch in the third inning. He’ll have an MRI on Tuesday to determine the severity.
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 upgraded an already potent offense by signing outfielder Josh Hamilton for $125 million in the offseason. It was a nostalgic start to the season for Hamilton, who 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, 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.
The Angels had one of the best interleague pitchers starting the first AL-NL season opener — Weaver is 12-3 in 21 career interleague games. The right-hander won 20 games and threw a no-hitter last year. He gave up only two hits through six innings, but let in a run with a wild pitch.
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 Angels are 30-23 in season openers, the Reds 66-70-1.