CINCINNATI -- Reds manager Dusty Baker breathed a sigh of relief when Joey Votto's game-winning hit caromed off Angels first baseman Albert Pujols' glove and into right field in the ninth inning Wednesday night.
"You always want to get that first victory out of the way," Baker said after Votto's single in the bottom of the ninth drove home Shin-Soo Choo with the winning run in Cincinnati's 5-4 victory over the Angels before 35,257 fans on Opening Night at Great American Ball Park.
The Reds were coming off a frustrating 13-inning, season-opening loss, compounded by a shoulder injury that could shelve Ryan Ludwick, the club's regular left fielder and cleanup hitter, for more than three months.
But on Wednesday night it was all smiles.
"This is a very resilient team," Baker said. "They know how to deal with adversity."
With the score tied to start the ninth, Angels reliever Scott Downs hit Choo with a pitch. Choo was then sacrificed into scoring position on Chris Heisey's bunt. He scored when Votto's ground ball hit Pujols' glove and also eluded second baseman Howie Kendrick.
"It was a tough play," said Angels manager Mike Scioscia. "Albert is a tremendous defensive player. It just got by him."
Scioscia doesn't regret his decision not to walk Votto in that situation.
"Walking Joey Votto is always in the back of your mind," he said. "The matchup was to pitch Downsy against Votto. If we get him and don't have to pitch to Phillips, we have Downs set up for (Jay) Bruce. It was 'pick your poison.'"
Downs (0-1) took the loss.
Second baseman Brandon Phillips hit a three-run home run to put Cincinnati ahead early, but the Angels fought back with homers from Kendrick and Alberto Callaspo. While the bottom of the Angels' order shined Wednesday, the struggles for Josh Hamilton and Pujols continued.
Scioscia said he's not concerned about his two big boppers even though they are 0-for-15 with four strikeouts in two games. So far in his Angels debut, Hamilton is 0-for-8 with three strikeouts.
"Those guys are going to hit in the middle," Scioscia said. "We'll be fine."
Cincinnati starter Mat Latos struck out eight in 6 2/3 innings, but the Angels stayed close with Kendrick's homer and the two-run blast by Callaspo, who went 2-for-4 with two RBI and a run scored.
Wilson, who was making his first start against the Reds, gave up four runs (three earned) in six innings.
"The curveball kept me in the game tonight," Wilson said. "I wasn't locating as well as I would've liked."
Meanwhile, the Angels bullpen delivered another solid performance, allowing just one hit in three innings before Cincinnati rallied in the ninth.
The Angels tied the score off Jonathan Broxton in the eighth when Erik Aybar reached on an infield hit and later scored from third on Mark Trumbo's groundout, making the score 4-4.
Aroldis Chapman (1-0) pitched the ninth with one walk and a strikeout to earn the victory.
Latos struck out seven through five innings, including three straight in the fourth.
Wilson retired the first 10 batters he faced. But Cincinnati, which collected just three hits in Monday's loss, hit the left-hander hard in the fourth.
Phillips, who was moved to cleanup from his customary No. 2 spot in the lineup due to Ludwick's injury, got his first RBI opportunity with runners on first and second and launched a 1-1 pitch from Wilson 394 feet into the left-center-field seats. That put the Reds ahead 3-0.
"Brandon's been there before, he's done well in the cleanup spot," Baker said. "Nothing's better than a three-run homer. That gets you going."
Bruce followed Phillips' homer with a double and reached third when left fielder Mark Trumbo misplayed the ball for an error. He scored on Todd Frazier's single, making the score 4-0, but the Angels rallied to tie the score four innings later.
NOTES: Ludwick was placed on the 15-day disabled list Wednesday, retroactive to Monday, when he tore the labrum in his right shoulder while sliding headfirst into third base. Ludwick had surgery Wednesday to repair the labrum and is expected to miss up to 14 weeks. ... Derrick Robinson's contract was selected from Triple-A Louisville on Wednesday to fill Ludwick's roster spot. ... The Angels are the only major-league team with four players on their roster who hit at least 30 homers last season: Hamilton (43), Trumbo (32), Pujols (30) and Mike Trout (30).