Iannetta delivers as Angels outlast Reds in 13 innings

The SportsXchange

CINCINNATI -- After catching all 13 innings during Monday afternoon's four-hour, 45-minute Opening Day marathon at Great American Ball Park, Angels catcher Chris Iannetta insisted he felt no ill-effects. A pair of clutch hits and a victory helped soothe any discomfort for the 30-year old veteran.

Iannetta hit a solo home run in the third inning for the game's first run, then approximately three hours later, his bases-loaded hit in the 13th drove home the go-ahead runs, lifting Los Angeles to a 3-1 victory over the Cincinnati Reds.

"It's not how you script it," said Iannetta of his season-opening heroics. "I just wanted to do something good. I want to contribute when I get the opportunity. I was excited."

Two walks and a hit batter loaded the bases for Iannetta with two outs in the 13th, and the catcher singled to left field to score Josh Hamilton and Howie Kendrick. Iannetta's game-winning hit came on a 3-2 pitch from Reds right-hander J.J Hoover (0-1), who had struck him out swinging in the 12th. "The last at-bat wasn't very good," Iannetta said. "That was in the back of my mind."

"This was a great character game for us, against a terrific team playing in their park," said Angels manager Mike Scioscia. "(Iannetta) had a great at-bat (in the 13th). He had some opportunities and came up big."

While Los Angeles was celebrating an Opening Day victory Monday night, Cincinnati was lamenting its missed opportunities.

On a positive note, centerfielder Shin-Soo Choo went 2-for-5 with a double and scored a run in his Reds debut. But Choo had two of just three hits managed by Cincinnati. And while the Angels committed three errors, the Reds couldn't take advantage. "It was a lesson in futility for both sides as far as scoring runs," said Cincinnati manager Dusty Baker.

After Choo's leadoff single in the eighth, the Angels bullpen held Cincinnati hitless through the next five innings. Mark Lowe (1-0) earned the victory, and Ernesto Frieri picked up the save.

"To beat good pitching you have to pitch with it," Scioscia said.

Monday's game-time temperature was 47 degrees with a brisk breeze, and starting pitchers Johnny Cueto of Cincinnati and Jered Weaver of Los Angeles made it a tough afternoon for hitters.

Weaver allowed one run and two hits over six innings, striking out four. Iannetta's homer was one of just three hits allowed by Cueto, who struck out nine in seven innings. The nine strikeouts were the most by a Reds pitcher on Opening Day since Mario Soto struck out 10 in 1982.

"Both (starters) were tough," said Baker. "Both were around the plate, throwing strikes. They're both No. 1 starters and you saw why they're No. 1s."

In the third inning, Reds left fielder Ryan Ludwick dislocated his right shoulder while sliding into third base. He is expected to undergo an MRI exam Tuesday to determine the extent of the injury.

Cueto, making his first start since suffering a strained oblique in the first inning of Game 1 of last year's NL Division Series, retired the first seven batters he faced Monday.

Iannetta, who hit just nine homers last season, belted an 0-1 pitch from Cueto into the left-center-field seats, putting the Angels ahead 1-0 in the third.

Choo led off the third with a double, reached third on Brandon Phillips' groundout and scored on a wild pitch, sliding in just ahead of Weaver's tag to tie the score 1-1. Ludwick reached third base on the play but injured his right shoulder during his slide. Chris Heisey replaced Ludwick in left field.

The Angels struck out 17 times, tied for the most on Opening Day in franchise history. But Iannetta's three RBI were enough to end a grueling, pitching-dominated affair before 43,168 fans at Great American Ball Park, most of whom weren't around for the finish.

"The game went a little longer than people anticipated for Opening Day," said Weaver. "The bullpen did a great job for us today. We've got some guys down there that can do some great things."

NOTES: Monday's game was the first Opening Day matchup of interleague opponents in major league history. ... Hamilton went 0-for-4 with two walks in his Angels debut. ... Kendrick made his seventh straight Opening Day start, passing Bobby Knoop for most consecutive Opening Day starts by an Angels second baseman. ... Veteran Reds infielder Cesar Izturis made the club after batting .387 with five doubles and seven RBI this spring. Manager Dusty Baker said the 11-year veteran earned the nod due to his sure-handedness and experience. Izturis came off the bench Monday and went 0-for-2. ... The Reds demoted right-hander Logan Ondrusek to Double-A Pensacola due to his familiarity with Wahoos pitching coach Tom Brown.
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