CINCINNATI – One game in, that new Mets bullpen sure looks good.

Daniel Murphy drove in both New York runs with a homer and a groundout Monday, a memorable showing in his first big league opener, and the Mets’ rebuilt bullpen made it hold up for a 2-1 victory over the Cincinnati Reds on a raw, cold afternoon.

The Mets became known for meltdowns the last two seasons, blowing division leads in September. They tried to fix their biggest problem – the balky bullpen – by signing Francisco Rodriguez and trading for J.J. Putz at the winter meetings, bringing in two All-Star pitchers with a history of success closing games.

The first time out, they were nearly perfect.

Johan Santana (1-0) went 5 2-3 innings, extending his streak without a loss since June 28, and the bullpen didn’t allow a hit the rest of the way.

Marlins 12, Nationals 6

MIAMI – The Florida Marlins’ new leadoff hitter is so fast he can beat out a home run.

Emilio Bonifacio became a crowd favorite in his Marlins’ debut, hitting the majors’ first inside-the-park homer on opening day since 1968 and going 4-for-5 in a 12-6 victory over his former team, the Washington Nationals.

Florida also hit three homers over the fence, including Hanley Ramirez’s grand slam.

The offense was a bonus coming from Bonifacio, who joined Florida with a reputation as a slick-fielding but light-hitting speedster. He was summoned for a curtain call following his first big league homer, which landed short of the warning track but sailed over center fielder Lastings Milledge because he was playing so shallow.

The last inside-the-park home run on opening day was by Boston’s Carl Yastrzemski on April 10, 1968.

Pirates 6, Cardinals 4

ST. LOUIS – Jack Wilson gave the Pittsburgh Pirates a dramatic opening-day victory.

With the Pirates down to their last strike, Wilson hit a three-run double to cap a four-run ninth inning off rookie closer Jason Motte, leading Pittsburgh over the St. Louis Cardinals 6-4.

In a game played in 41-degree chill, Ryan Ludwick broke a 2-2 tie with a leadoff homer in the eighth off Tyler Yates, and David Freese added a sacrifice fly off John Grabow (1-0) for a 4-2 lead.

D-Backs 9, Rockies 8

PHOENIX – Tony Clark and Arizona newcomer Felipe Lopez each homered from both sides of the plate, and the Diamondbacks beat the Colorado Rockies 9-8 in a home run derby of an opener Monday.

Eight home runs were hit in the game, including the decisive shot by Chad Tracy leading off the seventh inning against reliever Jason Grilli (0-1).

Lopez and Clark became the first switch-hitting teammates to homer from both sides of the plate in a game since Jorge Posada and Bernie Williams did it for the New York Yankees on April 23, 2000. It had never been done on opening day.

Cubs 4, Astros 2

HOUSTON – Carlos Zambrano tossed six sharp innings to get his first opening-day win in five chances, leading the Chicago Cubs to a 4-2 victory over the Houston Astros. Zambrano allowed one run and five hits in his first start against Houston since his no-hitter on Sept. 14 in Milwaukee. That game was played at Miller Park after Hurricane Ike damaged the Houston-area.

Alfonso Soriano and Aramis Ramirez homered off Houston’s Roy Oswalt and Mike Fontenot had three hits for Chicago.

Cubs manager Lou Piniella said before the game that the 27-year-old Zambrano would get too nervous and excited on opening day in years past. But he struck out six and walked three in a strong performance.

Dodgers 4, Padres 1

SAN DIEGO – Joe Torre’s trust in Hiroki Kuroda paid off with an opening-day win for the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Kuroda outpitched San Diego Padres ace Jake Peavy, leading the defending NL West champions to a 4-1 victory Monday without a hit from Manny Ramirez.

The enigmatic slugger went 0-for-3 with a walk and a run on his first opening day with the Dodgers.

Matt Kemp drove a 418-foot homer to straightaway center field off Peavy, and James Loney had three hits, including a two-run single.

The crowd of 45,496 was the largest in Petco Park’s six-year history.


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