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Renteria, Smoltz key Braves' Opening Day win vs. Phils

• Turning point: In the seventh, with one out and runners on second and third, the Braves decided to pitch to reigning MVP Ryan Howard with first base open. Mike Gonzalez struck out Howard and then got cleanup hitter Chase Utley to ground out to end the inning to keep the Phillies lead at 3-2.

• Unsung hero: While Renteria put the Braves over the top, Brian McCann got Atlanta started. McCann's two-run home run in the fourth gave the Braves a 2-0 lead. He finished 3-for-4 with two RBIs and a run scored.

• Numbers game: Atlanta's pitchers recorded 10 strikeouts Monday with starting pitcher John Smoltz accounting for seven of the Ks.

• Quotable: "He couldn't get a bunt down, but he could hit a homer," Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said of Renteria.

-- ESPN.com news services

Braves 5, Phillies 3

PHILADELPHIA -- Next time Edgar Renteria squares to bunt
against the Philadelphia Phillies, the pitcher might try to hit his
bat.


After twice failing to execute a sacrifice, Renteria ripped his
second homer -- a two-run shot -- in the 10th inning to lead the
Atlanta Braves over Philadelphia 5-3 in the season opener Monday.


Renteria's solo shot off starter Brett Myers with two outs in
the eighth inning tied it at 3.


"He couldn't get a bunt down, but he could hit a homer,"
Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said of Renteria.


Last July, Renteria hit a tiebreaking RBI double off Myers after
he failed to bunt in the ninth inning of a 5-1 win in Philly.


"I'm a bunting guy," said Renteria, who has 82 career
sacrifices. "I'll try and move the guy to second every time.
That's my game. Sometimes you hit the ball good and the ball goes
out."


John Smoltz went six innings, Bob Wickman (1-0) pitched out of a
jam in the ninth and Chad Paronto tossed a scoreless 10th for the
save.


Kelly Johnson walked to start the 10th against Ryan Madson
(0-1). Renteria fouled off two bunt attempts before hitting a liner
into the right-center field seats.


"It's very disappointing to let my teammates down," said
Madson, a key part of an oft-criticized bullpen.


Jimmy Rollins homered and Myers pitched 7 2/3 strong innings for
the Phillies.


Brian McCann hit a two-run homer for the Braves.


"It's a great start," Atlanta manager Bobby Cox said. "Smoltz
and Myers both pitched tremendous baseball. Our bullpen really held
together, which is a huge plus for us this season."


Myers retired seven straight before Renteria ripped an 0-2 pitch
off the brick wall beyond the center-field fence to tie it at 3.


"I thought I had him looking for an off-speed pitch and tried
to throw it by him," Myers said. "I didn't make the pitch and he
did what he was supposed to do with a bad pitch."


Leading 2-1, Smoltz ran into trouble in the sixth after retiring
Philadelphia's two most dangerous hitters -- Ryan Howard and Chase
Utley. Pat Burrell blooped a single and Wes Helms followed with a
double just out of Gold Glove center fielder Andruw Jones' reach to
tie it at 2.


Aaron Rowand then hit a pop-up to shallow center that bounced
off second baseman Johnson's glove, scoring Helms for a 3-2 lead.
Johnson, a converted outfielder, appeared to lose the ball in the
sun and it was ruled a single.


The Phillies missed a chance to add an important insurance run
in the seventh after Rollins doubled to put runners on second and
third with no outs against former Pirates closer Mike Gonzalez. But
Gonzalez fanned Shane Victorino and Howard, and retired Utley on a
grounder to shortstop to keep it at 3-2.


Utley prevented the go-ahead run from scoring in the ninth by
making a diving stop on Ryan Langerhans' infield single up the
middle. Tom Gordon then struck out pinch-hitter Brayan Pena to
leave the bases loaded.


A sellout crowd of 44,742 turned out for the fourth season
opener at Citizens Bank Park. They were rowdy right from the start,
booing Burrell in pregame introductions and giving Howard, the
reigning NL MVP, a standing ovation.


A few minutes later, some fans wiped tears during a touching
tribute for longtime coach and former player John Vukovich, former
All-Star outfielder Johnny Callison, former pitcher Cory Lidle,
former pitching coach Vern Ruhle and longtime organist Paul
Richardson. Each died in the offseason.


McCann gave the Braves a 2-0 lead in the fourth inning with a
line-drive homer into the right-field seats.


Rollins cut it to 2-1 with a solo shot in the fifth.


Smoltz allowed three runs and eight hits, striking out seven in
the best of his four Opening Day starts. Smoltz came in with a 7.71
ERA as a starter in season openers.


Myers gave up three runs and four hits in his first Opening Day
assignment. He struck out nine and walked two.


In a surprise lineup switch, Manuel flip-flopped Utley and
Howard in the 3-4 spots. For months, Manuel said he preferred to
leave Utley in the No. 3 hole and Howard in the cleanup spot with
Burrell batting fifth.


The issue of who should protect Howard in the lineup was a major
topic in the offseason, especially after the Phillies failed to
land free-agent slugger Alfonso Soriano. Howard was intentionally
walked in the ninth, but Wickman got Utley to foul out to third
base to leave the winning run at second base.


"Whatever Charlie wants is fine," Howard said.


Notes
The Phillies are 56-67-2 in season openers. The Braves are
18-24 in openers since moving to Atlanta, including 9-14 on the
road. ... "VUK" was painted inside the third-base coaching box to
honor Vukovich, who passed away last month. Vukovich's son, Vince,
threw out the first pitch. ... Renteria has six career multihomer
games.