CINCINNATI (AP) -- The first guests at Great American Ball Park
made off with everything but the towels.
First homer. First win. First series sweep. The Pittsburgh
Pirates left town with all of the ballpark's breakthrough moments
The Pirates hit eight homers overall -- three by Sanders -- as
they improved to 3-0 for the first time since 1993 and ruined a big
moment for baseball's first professional team.
"We all know what baseball is like when you get that first hit
and you can relax,'' said Sanders, who was 7-for-11 in the series
with seven RBI. "With where we are right now, things are going
extremely well, so I'm trying to enjoy the moment.''
The only good moment for the Reds came way back in the first
inning of the opener, when Ken Griffey Jr. doubled for the
ballpark's first official hit.
After that, it was one disappointment after another.
"Every day was like Opening Day again,'' said left fielder Adam Dunn, who was 1-for-11 in the series. "I just think we put too
much pressure on ourselves. We wanted to do good to give the fans
something to cheer about. You're not going to win a game all year
if you play like that.''
The Reds are developing a habit of flopping in big series. They
closed Cinergy Field last September getting swept by the Phillies
in front of capacity crowds. They opened the new ballpark over the
weekend by losing both exhibitions against Cleveland, then got
drubbed in the first three games that mattered.
The new ballpark was designed with a close right-field wall to
help their left-handed lineup, but the Reds have been outscored
33-12 in the five games, including 24-10 against Pittsburgh.
"They pounded on us pretty good, no question about that,'' Reds
manager Bob Boone said. "When you give up 24 runs in three games,
I'm big-timed concerned.''
By contrast, the Pirates' offense -- the NL's worst over the last
two seasons -- felt quite at ease in the new place.
"That was good baseball for us,'' manager Lloyd McClendon said.
"We had it all going, for the most part.''
Sanders, who hit the first homer on Opening Day, singled home a
run in the second and had a three-run homer off left-hander Jimmy Anderson in the third that put Pittsburgh ahead 5-1.
He barely missed another homer in the fifth, when the wind
pushed his drive just wide of the left-field foul pole. Undaunted,
Sanders hit Anderson's next pitch into the seats in left-center for
a 7-3 lead.
Anderson was determined to prove that the Pirates did him wrong
by demoting him to the bullpen last season, then letting him go.
Instead, he made them look good, giving up eight hits and seven
runs in 4 2-3 innings.
"Everything I got up, they made me pay for it,'' said Anderson,
who relies on his sinker.
Josh Fogg, one of Anderson's closest friends on the Pirates,
gave up five runs in 6 2-3 innings, including two-run homers by
Sean Casey and Aaron Boone. McClendon unsuccessfully argued that
Boone's homer in the seventh hit the top of the wall in left field
and bounced back.
Cincinnati native Scott Sauerbeck got two outs, and Mike
Williams retired two batters for his second save in two days.
Sanders, a mainstay on the Reds' 1995 playoff team, was
delighted to get the ballpark's first homer, and plans to add the
ball to his collection of memorabilia.
Sanders has the baseballs from his first hit and first three
homers with the Reds. He's also got an autographed Pete Rose
baseball, and a ball from the game in which Barry Larkin became the
first shortstop to hit 30 homers and steal 30 bases.
It was Sanders' 19th two-homer game. His career high is
three homers with the Reds against Colorado in 1995. It was his
ninth four-hit game, the last one coming July 3, 1999, at Colorado.
... The 3-0 start isn't necessarily a sign of good things ahead for
the Pirates. Their identical start in 1993 resulted in the first of
10 straight losing seasons. ... The last time the Reds started 0-3
was 1999, when they won 96 games and eventually lost a wild card
playoff game to the Mets. They haven't been in the postseason since
1995, when they opened 0-6. ... Sammy Sosa gets to try for the
ballpark's first historic homer -- his 500th -- over the weekend.
Sosa is 6-for-24 career without a homer off Danny Graves, who will
start for the Reds on Friday.