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Boos start early; offense yet to break out

4/12/2004

PHILADELPHIA (AP) -- The Philadelphia Phillies opened their new
stadium the same way they left their old one.

Paul Wilson allowed just one run over 7 1-3 innings, and the
Cincinnati Reds beat Philadelphia 4-1 Monday in the first game at
Citizens Bank Park, triggering boos from Phillies' fans angered by
the team's slow start.

"You can't get on the fans. The fans are great here," Phillies
manager Larry Bowa said. "They can boo. They're frustrated. They
want to see a winner."

It was fitting the Phillies started their new era with a loss.
After all, they are the losingest franchise in sports. No team in
any U.S. pro sport has lost more games (8,681).

D'Angelo Jimenez got the first hit, a ground-rule double down
the right-field line on the fourth pitch of the game from Randy
Wolf.

Bobby Abreu hit the first home run, the only bright spot for a
dismal Phillies' offense that has scored 16 runs in seven games.

A crowd of 41,626 spent most of the afternoon hiding from the
rain on a 48-degree day. Most of the seats in the upper deck were
empty by the fifth inning, and some of the remaining fans were
booing or chanting, "Let's Go Flyers!" by the seventh.

Widely considered favorites to win the NL East, the Phillies are
off to a 1-6 start, losing five in a row.

"We haven't played well. We need to get a win and go from
there," first baseman Jim Thome said. "The crowd was great,
everything was great, but we didn't score any runs."

Ken Griffey Jr. had an RBI double and Jimenez had two hits and
scored twice for the surprising Reds (5-2).

"The weather was nasty, the wind looked bad, but the guys were
making the plays," Reds manager Dave Miley said.

The Phillies spent 33 mostly losing seasons at Veterans Stadium,
before moving into their long-awaited $458 million ballpark.
Despite the high expectations created by several significant
offseason additions, the Phillies have played more like the team
that finished with a losing record in 14 of the last 17 seasons.

Jimenez scored the first run, coming in on a wild pitch by Wolf
that drew the first boos from the notoriously boorish Philly crowd.

Abreu tied it at 1 with an opposite-field shot that quickly
reached the seats in left field in the first.

An RBI single by Ryan Freel scored Adam Dunn, who doubled, to
give the Reds a 2-1 lead in the second. Griffey's RBI double and a
sacrifice fly by Sean Casey made it 4-1 in the fifth.

"I didn't have command of my fastball and didn't get ahead of a
lot of hitters," Wolf said. "I just had a bad game."

The Phillies won their first game at the Vet, beating the
Montreal Expos 4-1 on April 10, 1971. Bowa, a shortstop on that
Phillies team, had the first hit, a single, and the first triple.

Bowa could only watch in disappointment as Philadelphia's
offense continued its early season struggles. With two on in the
eighth, Abreu flied out to left and Thome struck out looking
against Phil Norton.

"With the people we have in the lineup, we expect to score
runs," Bowa said. "We have some guys that can play. They're going
to hit. It'll happen."

Wilson (2-0) gave up six hits in his second consecutive solid
outing. He pitched seven shutout innings in a victory over the Cubs
last week.

Danny Graves pitched a perfect ninth for his fourth save, and
the crowd booed loudly when Jimmy Rollins grounded to second for
the final out.

"It was really tough conditions, probably the worst I ever
pitched in," Wilson said. "I kept telling myself I wasn't cold.
Fortunately I got ahead with my pitches and got a lot of ground
balls."

Wolf (0-0) allowed four runs and seven hits in five innings. The
All-Star left-hander has a 6.10 ERA in two starts.

The biggest difference for the players at the new stadium is the
surface, with grass instead of the concrete-like artificial turf at
the Vet. The most unique feature on the field is an angle located
between the left-center field power alley and dead center field
that could cause havoc for outfielders and produce some wild
extra-base hits. Austin Kearns hit a triple into that area in the
ninth.

The Phillies brought in Hall of Famers Mike Schmidt, Steve
Carlton and Robin Roberts to throw out the ceremonial first
pitches, with commissioner Bud Selig presenting the balls. Several
members of the U.S. Navy's parachute team, the Leap Frogs, jumped
into stadium, thrilling the crowd during the pregame festivities.

All that was missing was Tug McGraw and Paul Owens, prominent
members of the Phillies' organization who passed away in the
offseason. McGraw, the zany reliever who threw the final pitch of
the 1980 World Series that sealed the only championship in
franchise history, and Owens, the general manager of that team,
were honored in a touching video tribute before the game.

Game notes
The Phillies closed out the Vet with a 5-2 loss to the
Braves last Sept. 28. ... The Phillies also lost both exhibition
games played in the new stadium last week. ... The Reds have been
the visiting team at five stadium openers since 1962, going 4-1.
... Phillies LF Pat Burrell broke his bat, but still flied out to
the warning track in left field in the fourth inning. ... Wolf also
started the first game at Houston's Minute Maid Park in 2000,
earning a victory over the Astros. ... Griffey made an outstanding
defensive play in the third to rob Wolf of extra bases, then threw
him out trying to stretch the single into a double.