CINCINNATI – Even Ken Griffey Jr. had to bow down during Bronson Arroyo’s do-it-all debut.
The right-hander hit his first career homer Wednesday during his first start for the Cincinnati Reds, setting up an 8-6 victory over the Chicago Cubs that earned the crowd’s ovations and Griffey’s tribute.
Griffey moved ahead of two Yankees with his first home run of the season. His solo shot was his 537th, breaking a tie with Mickey Mantle for 12th on the career list. It also provided his 1,538th RBI, moving him ahead of Joe DiMaggio for 31st on that list.
But the afternoon belonged to Arroyo (1-0), who totally changed the mood and the music at Great American Ball Park two days after the Cubs’ opened the season with a 16-7 win.
Each team hit three homers in the majors’ most homer-friendly ballpark – nine went out overall during the two-game series. Griffey’s was the most historic, but Arroyo’s will be most remembered.
Making his first start since his March 20 trade from Boston for Wily Mo Pena, the lanky pitcher came to bat for the first time in the third inning and homered off left-hander Glendon Rusch (0-1), who got ahead 0-2 in the count before throwing a down-the-middle fastball. Arroyo, a .073 career hitter, timed it perfectly.
Everyone knew the ball was gone long before it landed in the left-field seats, 403 feet away. Arroyo dropped his head and rounded the bases briskly, his shoulder-length hair flapping behind his helmet.
Griffey waited for him on the top step of the dugout, grabbed the bill of his own batting helmet and bowed in respect over the shocking swing.
It was Arroyo’s first hit since Oct. 2, 2001 at Shea Stadium. Before that swing, he was 4-for-55 career with 33 strikeouts.
Cardinals 4, Phillies 3
PHILADELPHIA – While Jimmy Rollins stretched his hitting streak to 38 games, the Philadelphia Phillies remained winless.
Yadier Molina’s two-out RBI single off Tom Gordon in the ninth inning lifted the St. Louis Cardinals to a 4-3 victory on Wednesday night.
Skip Schumaker hit his first career homer and Albert Pujols again went deep for the Cardinals. Winner Brad Thompson pitched a perfect eighth inning, and Jason Isringhausen escaped a jam in the ninth to get his first save.
Astros 6, Marlins 5
HOUSTON – Lance Berkman and Preston Wilson each hit two-run homers and the Houston Astros held on for a 6-5 win over the Florida Marlins on Wednesday night.
Craig Biggio had two hits and scored two runs as the defending NL champions took two of three in their opening series with the Marlins, the team with the league’s lowest payroll.
Brad Lidge got Josh Willingham to ground out with runners on first and second in the ninth to get his second save. Willingham and Miguel Cabrera had two RBIs apiece for the Marlins, who trailed 6-1 after two innings, then held the Astros to two hits over the rest of the game.
Nationals 9, Mets 5
NEW YORK – Ryan Zimmerman hit a tying homer off new Mets closer Billy Wagner, and Jose Guillen’s two-run shot in the 10th inning sent the Washington Nationals to a 9-5 victory over New York on Wednesday night.
Nick Johnson hit a three-run drive in the sixth to start Washington’s comeback from a four-run deficit against right-hander Brian Bannister, who began his big league career with 5 1-3 hitless innings.
Left fielder Alfonso Soriano departed in the sixth, four innings after he was hit in the helmet by a pitch from Bannister
Brewers 3, Pirates 2
MILWAUKEE – Prince Fielder hit a looping single that scored Geoff Jenkins in the eighth inning Wednesday night and lifted the Milwaukee Brewers to a 3-2 victory over the Pittsburgh Pirates.
A highly regarded prospect who became the Brewers’ starting first baseman when the team traded Lyle Overbay in the offseason, Fielder was 0-for-9 with seven strikeouts this year when he walked in the second to reach base for the first time this season.
Fielder, the son of former major leaguer Cecil Fielder, was dropped from fifth to seventh in the lineup Wednesday by Brewers manager Ned Yost, who wanted to take some pressure off of him.
D-backs 4, Rockies 2
DENVER – Orlando Hernandez won in his Diamondbacks’ debut, striking out eight in five innings to lead Arizona over the Colorado Rockies 4-2 Wednesday night.
Acquired from the World Series champion Chicago White Sox during the offseason, Hernandez allowed two runs, six hits and two walks. He struck out Matt Holliday three times.
Greg Aquino, Terry Mulholland, Brandon Lyon, Luis Vizcaino and Jose Valverde finished, with Valverde getting three outs for the save.
Cory Sullivan walked with one out in the ninth before Clint Barmes struck out as catcher Johnny Estrada picked off Sullivan at first for a game-ending double play.
Luis Gonzalez drove in two runs with two doubles and a single, and Chad Tracy and Shawn Green also had RBIs for Arizona.
Loser Aaron Cook gave up three runs and six hits in seven innings. Todd Helton had two doubles and an RBI for Colorado.