ST. LOUIS — Nearly 50,000 fans -- a good number of them wearing No. 6 Stan Musial jerseys -- saw the best and worst of the St. Louis Cardinals Monday afternoon.
Hours after celebrating the life of the greatest player in team history, the Cardinals had one of their worst innings in recent memory.
Two Cardinals relievers gave up nine runs on six hits, five walks and an error after the ninth inning began with a 4-4 tie, leaving the Redbirds redfaced in a 13-4 loss to Cincinnati.
"Today was an awful day; I'm not going to hide from it," said reliever Mitchell Boggs, who gave up seven runs (six earned) on two hits and four walks (two intentional) in the ninth. "I didn't throw enough strikes to be competitive today. I wasn't very good."
The game with Cincinnati marked the Cardinals' first home Opening Day in 71 years without Musial, who died Jan. 19 age 92.
A regular-season record 47,345 fans watched a pregame tribute to Musial and introductions of the 2013 Cardinals players, then watched the team take leads of 2-0, 3-1, and 4-2 before the Reds forged a 4-4 tie in the eighth and embarrassed the home nine in the ninth.
Boggs, trying to keep the game tied at 4, retired one of the eight batters to face him before yielding to Marc Rzepczynski. He fared little better, allowing two runs on four hits and two walks.
The Reds had five baserunners in the first five innings, but 21 from the sixth inning on -- including 12 in the ninth.
The Redbirds took a 2-0 lead in the bottom of the first inning. Reds center fielder Shin-soo Choo saw Yadier Molina's two-out fly ball pop out of his glove, allowing Jon Jay and Matt Holliday to score in the first inning of home baseball at Bsuch Stadium this year.
After the Reds cut the lead in half with a fourth-inning run off Jaime Garcia, Molina singled home Allen Craig after his leadoff double in the bottom of the inning.
Garcia gave up Brandon Phillips' solo homer with two out in the top of the sixth, but Choo's second error -- on another ball hit by Molina -- restored the Redbirds' two-run edge in the bottom of the inning.
The Reds made it a one-run game again with a walk and two hits in the top of the seventh, ending Garcia's day. He allowed three runs on six hits in 6 2/3 innings, matching a career high with 10 strikeouts.
The Reds had a pair of one-out singles around a hit batsman by Trevor Rosenthal in the eighth, tying the game at 4-4.
The crowd was the largest in regular-season play at Busch III, which opened prior to the 2006 season.
Before play started, the crowd was hushed as a five-minute tribute to Musial played on the right-field scoreboard as part of the pregame ceremony. St. Louis catcher Yadier Molina watched from right field, just outside the bullpen area, while Cardinals officials stood and viewed it in the dugout.
After the short film, Musial's No. 6 (with his autograph scrawled across it) was unveiled on the left-field wall by Musial's children -- son Richard, and daughters Gerry, Janet and Jeanie. The number, circled in red, matches a patch being worn by the Cardinals this year.
"The first thing I did when I got here was make sure that (No. 6) patch was on my jersey," said Cardinals third baseman David Freese, a St. Louis native who who came off the disabled list Monday following a back injury in spring training. "It's just a cool thing. It's going to be a special day. I think everybody in this stadium's going to be thinking about Stan."
The stands were filled for the introduction of the living Cardinals Hall of Famers -- Lou Brock, Bob Gibson, Red Schoendienst, Ozzie Smith, Bruce Sutter and Whitey Herzog -- following the Musial ceremoney.
Then came the parade of trucks bringing the 2013 Cardinals onto the field. The loudest cheers came for Molina, St. Louis ace Adam Wainwright and injured pitcher Chris Carpenter, whose career is likely to end because of a nerve issue in his neck and shoulder.
The loudest boos came for Cincinnati second baseman Brandon Phillips, involved in an ugly on-field fight with the Cardinals three years ago.
An hour before first pitch with the Reds, many fans were already settled into their seats at the ballpark.
If the fans were ready for a home game for the 3-3 Cardinals, so wre the players and staff.
"There's so much excitement that goes into this," Cardinals maanger Matheny said in his pregame chat with reporters in the St. Louis dugout. "At some point, somebody will make it an official holiday around here. You can turn on your TV, turn on your radio and it is the conversation.
"It's something to be excited about. The guys, too. We just saw two Opening Days on the road. You can hear guys talking, 'Yeah, it was good, but wait until we get home.' It's something very special. It's something that means a lot to us and I know it means a lot to our fans."
Garcia (1-0, 1.59 ERA coming into the game) didn't allow a hit until the fourth, striking out four of five hitters at one juncture before Jay Bruce's RBI single in the fourth.
The Reds' Mat Latos (0-0, 4.05 ERA) was victimized by Choo's two-run error in the first, then gave up back-to-back hits in the fourth as the Cards widened their lead to 3-1.
After Phillips' homer in the sixth, Hollliday singled with one out in the bottom of the inning, and scored on Molina's two-out drive to deep center -- where Choo saw the ball pop out of his mitt for the second time.
The weather was Chamber-of-Commerce perfect, with temperatures in the mid-70s under partly cloudy skies.