ST. LOUIS (AP) Randal Grichuk hit a two-run homer in the eighth inning and a game-ending RBI single in the ninth, helping the St. Louis Cardinals top the Chicago Cubs 4-3 in a wild prime-time opener on Sunday night.
Jose Martinez sparked the winning rally with a pinch-hit double against Mike Montgomery, who closed out Chicago’s World Series championship in November. Yadier Molina then was awarded the first no-pitch intentional walk in major league history, part of baseball’s offseason rule changes designed to speed up the game.
With two outs and the bases loaded, Grichuk lined a 1-1 pitch into the gap in left-center for his second career game-ending hit. He was mobbed as he rounded first in the rain, and what was left of a sellout crowd of 47,566 cheered wildly.
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The Cardinals appeared set for a tidy 3-0 win before the Cubs rallied in the ninth. Ben Zobrist was hit by a pitch from Seung-hwan Oh and Jason Heyward singled before Willson Contreras hit a drive to left for a tying homer.
DIAMONDBACKS 6, GIANTS 5
PHOENIX (AP) – Madison Bumgarner hit two homers but the Arizona Diamondbacks scored twice with two outs in the bottom of the ninth inning off new San Francisco closer Mark Melancon to beat the Giants in a wild season opener.
Derailed by a dreadful bullpen last year, the Giants started this season the same way – even after trying to solve the problem by bringing in Melancon on a $62 million, four-year contract. They wasted a record-breaking performance by Bumgarner, who retired his first 16 batters and became the first major league pitcher to hit two home runs on opening day.
Arizona got a double and three singles after Melancon (0-1) retired his first two hitters in the ninth. A.J. Pollock singled in the tying run and Chris Owings dumped a base hit into right field to end it.
New Diamondbacks closer Fernando Rodney (1-0) gave up a run in a shaky ninth but got the victory.
San Francisco took a 5-4 lead when Joe Panik led off the ninth with a triple and scored on pinch-hitter Conor Gillaspie’s sacrifice fly.
Bumgarner struck out 11 with no walks in seven innings. He gave up three runs and became the first Giants pitcher to go deep twice in one game since Jim Gott in 1985.
RAYS 7, YANKEES 3
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) – Chris Archer pitched seven solid innings and Tampa Bay won the first game of the major league season, roughing up New York ace Masahiro Tanaka.
Evan Longoria and Logan Morrison homered and drove in three runs apiece before a sellout crowd of 31,042 at Tropicana Field on opening day. Tanaka (0-1), who had baseball’s best ERA in spring training, was tagged for a career-worst seven earned runs in 2 2/3 innings.
A first-time All-Star in 2015 who lost an AL-leading 19 times last season, Archer (1-0) limited New York to two runs and seven hits. He narrowly escaped a bases-loaded jam and turned a five-run lead over to a revamped bullpen.
Alex Colome replaced rookie Austin Pruitt with the bases loaded in the ninth, yielding a sacrifice fly to pinch-hitter Chris Carter before finishing for a save.