Wacha pitches Cards past Reds 5-3 in home opener

Published on NewsOK Modified: April 7, 2014 at 8:23 pm •  Published: April 7, 2014
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ST. LOUIS (AP) — Home opener hoopla was no distraction at all for Michael Wacha. Neither was the 49-degree chill for the first pitch.

The 22-year-old rookie was definitely excited about the occasion and the opportunity. Just like last fall when he was the breakout pitching star of the postseason, he fed off the atmosphere.

"Huge crowd out there, a lot of energy," Wacha said after the St. Louis Cardinals beat the Cincinnati Reds 5-3 on Monday. "It's a lot of fun pitching in front of your home crowd, 40,000-plus fans.

"I don't know who wouldn't thrive off those kind of situations."

Wacha outdid Tony Cingrani in a rematch of young power arms, and the Cardinals got a three-run double from Yadier Molina in the first inning.

"I didn't have my fastball, so what are you going to do? I just tried to battle," Cingrani said. "One bad pitch and it cleared the bases."

A standing-room crowd of 47,492, the largest at 9-year-old Busch Stadium, braved daylong rain to greet the National League champions and take a look at the new Ballpark Village. Hundreds milled about the attached complex, which features five sports bars and rooftop seating.

The Cardinals bunched three hits and a walk over the first five hitters to take the early lead against Cingrani (0-1), who allowed two hits in seven scoreless innings against the Cardinals six days earlier in Cincinnati.

The Cards went 1 for 18 before adding RBIs from Matt Holliday and Allen Craig off Trevor Bell in a two-run seventh.

St. Louis ended a three-game losing streak on opening day, including a blowout loss to the Reds last year.

Wacha (1-0) hadn't allowed a run in 21 career innings against the Reds before back-to-back doubles by Brayan Pena and pinch-hitter Roger Bernadina in the fifth cut the Cardinals' lead to 3-1.

The NL championship series MVP benefited from two double-play balls in six stingy innings and has permitted one run in 13 2-3 innings his first two starts.

Wacha threw 82 pitches before getting lifted for a pinch hitter with the Cardinals up by two runs and two on in the sixth. St. Louis manager Mike Matheny wanted to take a shot at putting the Reds away, but thought the right-hander had plenty left.

"That was more of a situation of what's best for the day, what's best for that particular game," Matheny said.

Cingrani needed 31 pitches to get through the first and lasted four innings, striking out five but walking four. Matheny said before the game that his hitters had been a "click off" with timing against the 24-year-old lefty last week and should benefit from another chance so soon.