Series: Game 1 of 3

Cincinnati leads 1-0 (as of 4/11)

Game 1: Friday, April 11
Game 2: Saturday, April 12
Game 3: Sunday, April 13

Phillies 6

(5-5, 2-2 away)

Reds 7

(4-6, 3-4 home)

    7:10 PM ET, April 11, 2003

    Great American Ball Park, Cincinnati, Ohio 

    123456789 R H E
    PHI 000001041 6 11 0
    CIN 102001102 7 11 1

    W: S. Williamson (2-0)

    L: J. Mesa (1-1)

    Kearns' two-run homer in ninth gives Reds win

    CINCINNATI (AP) -- One hanging breaking ball turned another bad night for the Cincinnati Reds at their new ballpark into the best one yet.

     Austin Kearns

    Austin Kearns' two-run homer off Jose Mesa in the ninth inning Friday gave the Reds their first dramatic victory at Great American Ball Park, 7-6 over the Philadelphia Phillies.

    There were as many mood swings as home run swings while the Reds blew a 5-1 lead, then came from behind in the ninth and finished the night hugging and hopping at home plate.

    "It's definitely a memory for this ballpark," said Sean Casey, who singled ahead of Kearns' homer. "We definitely had to have that one."

    It appeared the Phillies were going to get it with a late rally led by Placido Polanco, who had a double, single and homer in his last three at-bats.

    The crowd of 27,738 booed loudly when shortstop Felipe Lopez threw away David Bell's two-out grounder with the bases loaded in the eighth, letting in two runs. Tyler Houston's pinch two-run single tied it.

    Lopez, who started because Barry Larkin has a strained calf, was booed again when he came to bat in the bottom of the inning and grounded out.

    "Everybody tried to pick me up -- the whole team," said Lopez, who hadn't made an error this season. "That's why I like playing here. It was going to happen sometime in my career."

    The boos intensified when Polanco led off the ninth with his first homer off Gabe White, putting the Phillies up 6-5, and a puff of smoke was accidentally set off from the Reds' home run stacks in celebration.

    On came Mesa (1-1), who hadn't given up a run in 10 career appearances against Cincinnati. He gave up Casey's one-out single, then left his next pitch to Kearns up and over the plate.

    "You see a breaking ball up, you try to take advantage of it," Kearns said.

    He was mobbed at home plate after the first two-homer game of his career. He also had a solo shot in the seventh off Hector Mercado, giving him one in each of his last two at-bats and a team-leading five overall.

    "That's overrated," said Kearns, who hit 13 in 107 games for the Reds last season. "I'm not a home run hitter. You can't be a home run hitter when you go two months without one, like I did last year. The last thing I want to try to do is hit a home run."

    Scott Williamson (2-0) got the final out in the ninth for the win, leaving the Reds 3-4 at their new ballpark.

    "I'm proud of the way we battled," said Jim Thome, who drove in the Phillies' first run with an infield single. "I look at that as a big positive. They got a walkoff home run. I'll take Jose in that situation anytime. He's been a dominant closer throughout his career."

    Adam Dunn also hit a two-run homer off Brett Myers and Kelly Stinnett had a solo shot. The five homers in all made it 27 in seven games at Great American.

    The Phillies swept the Reds last September in the final series at Cinergy Field, which was imploded to make way for the new ballpark. They had a rough time at the new place.

    The Phillies' late-starting offense managed only one run and five hits through the first seven innings, before Lopez's error gave them a second chance. Reds starter Paul Wilson allowed five hits and a run in six innings, his second solid start at Great American.

    Wilson has allowed 13 hits and two earned runs in 12 2-3 innings during his two starts in a ballpark where homers fly easily.

    "That's just the way this place is," Wilson said. "All you can do is keep the ball down."

    Mesa couldn't.

    Game notes
    Bell was back in the lineup at third base after missing three of the last four games with back spasms. ... The Reds signed RHP Joey Hamilton to a contract with their Triple-A Louisville team. Hamilton declined arbitration from the Reds after last season and went to St. Louis, which released him this spring. ... Kearns couldn't stop his swing on a pitch that tailed in and hit him in the chest in the third inning, so it was a strike. In his next at-bat, he got hit in the hip by a pitch and got first base. ... Dunn had a single and double in three at-bats, a day after he was benched for one game to try to cure his slump. Dunn has turned into an all-or-nothing hitter -- 6-for-32 with four homers and 13 strikeouts.

    Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press