NL Roundup: Utley, Polanco power Phillies past Nationals

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PHILADELPHIA — Placido Polanco hit a go-ahead single, Chase Utley had a two-run homer and the Philadelphia Phillies overcame an early deficit to beat the Washington Nationals 7-4 in their home opener Monday.

The two-time defending NL champions are off to a 6-1 start, their best since opening the 1993 pennant-winning season 7-1.

Cole Hamels (2-0) earned the win despite another so-so effort. He allowed four runs and six hits in 5 2-3 innings. The lanky left-hander is trying to bounce back following an inconsistent year after a dominant postseason in 2008.

Playing without Jimmy Rollins, a late scratch after straining his right calf, the Phillies continued their torrid hitting. They’re averaging 7.1 runs and 11 hits per game.

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The Phillies celebrated the franchise’s seventh pennant during a pregame ceremony, then won their first home opener since 2005.

Led by the Phanatic, their furry green mascot, players entered the field from Ashburn Alley behind the stands in left-center field and walked through the crowd and onto a red carpet that stretched from the warning track to the infield.

Manager Charlie Manuel raised the 2009 NL championship flag on the concourse behind the brick batter’s eye. Players were introduced to rousing ovations and the U.S. Navy parachute team delivered the first balls.

Cubs 9, Brewers 5

CHICAGO — Xavier Nady, Jeff Baker and Aramis Ramirez homered Monday as the Chicago Cubs put on a power display for new owner Tom Ricketts and beat the Milwaukee Brewers 9-5 in their home opener.

Ricketts, the longtime fan whose family took over the team in October, joined his two brothers and sister to sing “Take Me Out to the Ball Game” during the seventh-inning stretch.

A crowd of 41,306 turned out at Wrigley Field on a 58-degree afternoon and watched the Cubs rush to an 8-1 lead

Nady, playing his first home game for the Cubs, hit a three-run homer in the third after singles by Marlon Byrd and Derrek Lee. Alfonso Soriano then singled and Baker cleared the left-field bleachers for a 5-0 lead against Doug Davis (0-1).

Ramirez hit a two-run shot off Claudio Vargas in the fourth, giving Ryan Dempster (1-0) a big cushion.

Dempster allowed seven hits and five runs in 6 1-3 innings and ran his career record against the Brewers to 12-3.

Ryan Braun hit a three-run homer and an RBI single for the Brewers.

Cardinals 5, Astros 0

ST. LOUIS — Albert Pujols homered and drove in four runs, leading Adam Wainwright and the St. Louis Cardinals over winless Houston 5-0 in their home opener and dropping the Astros to 0-7.

New batting coach Mark McGwire drew one of the biggest cheers during the pregame introductions before his first home game since retiring after the 2001 season. Pujols hit an RBI single and a three-run homer and Ryan Ludwick went 4 for 4. Wainwright (2-0) pitched eight scoreless innings and added his first career pickoff. The Astros are off to their worst since opening 0-9 in 1983.

Padres 17, Braves 2

SAN DIEGO — Will Venable’s two-run homer highlighted a 10-run fourth inning and Kyle Blanks homered, doubled and drove in a career-high five runs as the San Diego Padres routed the Atlanta Braves 17-2 in their home opener.

The Padres hit and scored as if they were playing in a bandbox rather than spacious Petco Park. Their 17 runs, on 19 hits, were the most by any team at the downtown ballpark since it opened in 2004.

Venable (triple, single, homer) and Blanks (double, homer, single) each finished a hit shy of the cycle. No Padres batter has ever hit for the cycle. Venable scored four runs and drove in two, and Blanks scored three times.

Kevin Correia (1-1), a San Diego native who made the start because of to Chris Young’s balky right shoulder, held Atlanta to two runs on four hits in 5 2-3 innings. He also had a two-run single in the fourth.

Reds 6, Marlins 5

MIAMI — Scott Rolen homered twice and drove in the go-ahead run in the 10th inning, helping the Cincinnati Reds beat the Florida Marlins 6-5.

The Marlins twice erased deficits but left the bases loaded in the bottom of the ninth and went down in order in the 10th against Francisco Cordero, who earned his third save in three chances.

Orlando Cabrera hit a two-run homer for the Reds. Rolen hit solo drives in the second and fourth, and has three homers after hitting 11 last year.

Joey Votto started the 10th with a walk against Burke Badenhop (0-1). He advanced on a sacrifice and scored on Rolen’s one-out single.

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