Molina’s HR leads Cardinals to 1-0 victory over Reds

CINCINNATI — Yadier Molina’s homer broke a seventh-inning tie and drew another round of loud boos while he rounded the bases on Monday, leading the St. Louis Cardinals to a 1-0 victory over the Cincinnati Reds.

The Reds were blanked on opening day for the first time since 1953, ending the second-longest streak of scoring in at least one run in season openers in major league history. The Phillies went 62 years without being blanked in an opener from 1911-72.

Adam Wainwright used his refined sinker to finally get the best of the Reds, who have hit him like no other team. Wainwright allowed three hits in seven innings, fanning nine.

St. Louis escaped a threat in the eighth. Trevor Rosenthal retired all three batters in the ninth, finishing a three-hitter for the defending National League champions.

Bryan Price lost his managing debut with Cincinnati, which opened the season with eight players on the disabled list, its most since 2007.

During pregame introductions, Molina got by far the loudest boos from the crowd of 43,134 — the second-largest for a regular-season game in Great American Ball Park history. Fans still haven’t forgiven the five-time All Star catcher for a 2010 brawl at home plate with Brandon Phillips.

They were booing again after his first-pitch homer in the seventh, his second career off Johnny Cueto. It was one of only three hits off Cueto in seven innings.

The combination of Wainwright and Molina was enough.

Wainwright won 19 games and finished second in the NL Cy Young Award voting last season, when he had his biggest trouble with the Reds. He went 1-3 in four starts with a 7.77 ERA against Cincinnati, getting knocked around so much that he called it a “head-scratcher.”

Wainwright (1-0) refined a sinker in spring training and was in control on a breezy, 64-degree afternoon. He fanned new Reds leadoff hitter Billy Hamilton four times.

The Reds’ best chance came in the eighth, when the Cardinals committed two errors. Phillips became the first Reds runner to reached third base, but was caught in a rundown on Jay Bruce’s grounder. Carlos Martinez fanned Todd Frazier for the final out, stranding a runner at third.

Cueto’s third straight opening-day start was a reminder that it’s a matter of staying healthy. He was on the disabled list three times last season, limited to 11 starts. He changed his delivery slightly to try to avoid injury, and was on the mark on opening day until Molina connected.

There were no close plays that merited replays.

One noticeable change: Price will do more defensive shifting. When lefty Matt Adams came to bat, Frazier moved from third base to the second baseman’s normal position while Phillips moved into short right field. Adams went the other way, getting a single and a double in his first two at-bats — the only hits off Cueto (0-1) through six innings.

NOTES: Cincinnati’s last shutout loss on opening day was a 2-0 loss to the Milwaukee Braves. … Former Reds SS Barry Larkin and Dave Concepcion threw ceremonial pitches. … Cueto was hit on the glove hand/wrist by Matt Carpenter’s comebacker on his fifth pitch of the game. A trainer checked him, and he made a few practice throws. … Hits king Pete Rose attended the game. … The teams are off on Tuesday. Michael Wacha starts for St. Louis on Wednesday night against LH Tony Cingrani.

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