Molina, Wacha lead Cardinals to home-opening win over Cincinnati

News-DemocratApril 7, 2014 

Michael Wacha describes the atmosphere at Busch Stadium on Monday.


— Home-opening victories have been elusive for the St. Louis Cardinals at Busch Stadium III.

But Yadier Molina and Michael Wacha joined forces on a damp Monday afternoon and reversed the trend.

Molina had a three-run double in the first inning and Wacha allowed just one run in six innings as the Cardinals downed Cincinnati 5-3 before a stadium-record crowd of 47,492.

It was the Cardinals' third win in nine home openers at Busch Stadium III, which opened for business in 2006.

"In that situation, I was trying to hit the ball in the air to try to get one run," Molina said of his bases-loaded hit to the wall in left-center against Cincinnati left-hander Tony Cingrani (0-1). "I was lucky enough to get it in the gap."

Matt Holliday had an RBI double in the seventh and Allen Craig followed with a run-scoring single to score Holliday. The runs loomed large after Trevor Rosenthal allowed two runs in the ninth before getting Billy Hamilton on a fly ball to end the game.

Wacha allowed the Reds' leadoff man to reach in the first four innings, but pitched around the trouble on each occasion. Cincinnati's only run against him came in the fifth when pinch-hitter Roger Bernadina doubled in Brayan Pena, who also had doubled.

Wacha (1-0) surrendered seven hits, four of them doubles, walked one and struck out three.

"It's always nice getting runs out there," Wacha said. "Our guys did a great job today, putting up runs for me. That makes our jobs a lot easier as pitchers. We can really go out there and start attacking the zone and getting after the hitters."

Wacha's defense was solid. Zack Cozart bounced into a 6-4-3 double play to end the second, and Brandon Phillips rolled into a 5-4-3 twin killing to end the third, an inning that began with Pena's double and Cingrani's infield single.

"I mean, those guys were making plays behind me," Wacha said. "Those weren't easy plays they were making. Those double plays came in big-time situations, and those guys kept me in the game and kept them off the scoreboard."

Rosenthal entered the game in a non-save situation and walked Jay Bruce and Ryan Ludwick. Todd Frazier's single loaded the bases, and Cozart's single made it 5-2 and kept the bases loaded.

Pena struck out, and pinch-hitter Neftali Soto had a sacrifice fly to left that made it 5-3. Hamilton was retired on a soft fly to center.

"I was getting behind hitters and not getting ahead of them," Rosenthal said. "I had to make some pitches over the plate and they kind of made me pay for it. I felt good, though. The focus was there and I'll just keep moving along."

Contact reporter David Wilhelm at or 239-2665. Follow him on Twitter: @DavidMWilhelm.

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