After twice failing to execute a sacrifice, Renteria ripped his second homer — a two-run shot—in the 10th inning to lead the Atlanta Braves over Philadelphia 5-3 in the season opener Monday.
Renteria’s solo shot off starter Brett Myers with two outs in the eighth inning tied it at 3.
“He couldn’t get a bunt down, but he could hit a homer,” Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said of Renteria.
Last July, Renteria hit a tiebreaking RBI double off Myers after he failed to bunt in the ninth inning of a 5-1 win in Philly.
“I’m a bunting guy,” said Renteria, who has 82 career sacrifices. “I’ll try and move the guy to second every time. That’s my game. Sometimes you hit the ball good and the ball goes out.”
“It’s very disappointing to let my teammates down,” said Madson, a key part of an oft-criticized bullpen.
Jimmy Rollins homered and Myers pitched 7 2-3 strong innings for the Phillies.
Brian McCann hit a two-run homer for the Braves.
“It’s a great start,” Atlanta manager Bobby Cox said. “Smoltz and Myers both pitched tremendous baseball. Our bullpen really held together, which is a huge plus for us this season.”
Myers retired seven straight before Renteria ripped an 0-2 pitch off the brick wall beyond the center-field fence to tie it at 3.
“I thought I had him looking for an off-speed pitch and tried to throw it by him,” Myers said. “I didn’t make the pitch and he did what he was supposed to do with a bad pitch.”
Leading 2-1, Smoltz ran into trouble in the sixth after retiring Philadelphia’s two most dangerous hitters—Ryan Howard and Chase Utley. Pat Burrell blooped a single and Wes Helms followed with a double just out of Gold Glove center fielder Andruw Jones’ reach to tie it at 2.
Aaron Rowand then hit a pop-up to shallow center that bounced off second baseman Johnson’s glove, scoring Helms for a 3-2 lead. Johnson, a converted outfielder, appeared to lose the ball in the sun and it was ruled a single.
The Phillies missed a chance to add an important insurance run in the seventh after Rollins doubled to put runners on second and third with no outs against former Pirates closer Mike Gonzalez. But Gonzalez fanned Shane Victorino and Howard, and retired Utley on a grounder to shortstop to keep it at 3-2.
Utley prevented the go-ahead run from scoring in the ninth by making a diving stop on Ryan Langerhans’ infield single up the middle. Tom Gordon then struck out pinch-hitter Brayan Pena to leave the bases loaded.
A sellout crowd of 44,742 turned out for the fourth season opener at Citizens Bank Park. They were rowdy right from the start, booing Burrell in pregame introductions and giving Howard, the reigning NL MVP, a standing ovation.
A few minutes later, some fans wiped tears during a touching tribute for longtime coach and former player John Vukovich, former All-Star outfielder Johnny Callison, former pitcher Cory Lidle, former pitching coach Vern Ruhle and longtime organist Paul Richardson. Each died in the offseason.
McCann gave the Braves a 2-0 lead in the fourth inning with a line-drive homer into the right-field seats.
Rollins cut it to 2-1 with a solo shot in the fifth.
Smoltz allowed three runs and eight hits, striking out seven in the best of his four opening-day starts. Smoltz came in with a 7.71 ERA as a starter in season openers.
Myers gave up three runs and four hits in his first opening day assignment. He struck out nine and walked two.
In a surprise lineup switch, Manuel flip-flopped Utley and Howard in the 3-4 spots. For months, Manuel said he preferred to leave Utley in the No. 3 hole and Howard in the cleanup spot with Burrell batting fifth.
The issue of who should protect Howard in the lineup was a major topic in the offseason, especially after the Phillies failed to land free-agent slugger Alfonso Soriano. Howard was intentionally walked in the ninth, but Wickman got Utley to foul out to third base to leave the winning run at second base.
“Whatever Charlie wants is fine,” Howard said.
The Phillies are 56-67-2 in season openers. The Braves are 18-24 in openers since moving to Atlanta, including 9-14 on the road. … “VUK” was painted inside the third-base coaching box to honor Vukovich, who passed away last month. Vukovich’s son, Vince, threw out the first pitch. … Renteria has six career multihomer games.