CINCINNATI, Ohio — On a cold day in the Queen City, Cincinnati’s offense was frozen for the majority of the game but an eighth-inning surge sent the hometown fans away in a frenzy.
Reds shortstop Zack Cozart capped his 3-for-3 day with a sacrifice fly in the eighth to tie the game at two apiece, before a bases loaded single by Joey Votto scored two more, as a 5-run inning broke the game open, giving Cincinnati a 6-2 victory over the Philadelphia Phillies in front of a record-breaking crowd of 43,683 on Opening Day at Great American Ball Park.
Votto, who was hitless in three attempts prior to his single in the eighth, was elated to get the come from behind victory.
“It feels good,” Votto said. “I don’t want to come into this locker room unless we have a win. That’s the way I feel everyday.”
Trailing 2-1 entering the eighth, the Reds had three hits — all by Cozart. But after a walk by Adam Duvall, switch hitter Scott Schebler hit a double to right field. After a Billy Hamilton walk to load the bases and tie the game, Votto collected his first hit of the season.
“Good pitch to hit and glad I came through in that situation,” Votto said.
With Opening Day resembling a national holiday in Cincinnati, which culminates in a city-wide parade, Reds centerfielder Billy Hamilton was thrilled to get the win for the hometown fans.
“It’s a great day for Cincinnati and it’s really amazing for us to get the win on an amazing day,” Hamilton said.
The day was extra special for Cozart who is coming off a knee injury.
“I have a little nerves before every game just because I’m excited,” Cozart said. “But today, it was just different because of Opening Day. It’s been 9 1/2 months since I’ve played in a meaningful game. When I got hurt, we were playing the Phillies. I was leading off that game. So, it’s just a bunch of stuff that was coincidence.
“For me personally, I just wanted to get out there and get the game started, past the ceremonies and realize that it’s the same game. I’m healthy and I’m here just to play.”
Reliever Jumbo Diaz picked up the victory, pitching 1 1/3 innings and retiring all four batters he faced.
Making his first Opening Day start in his second season, Raisel Iglesias started the game and gave the Reds a quality start, pitching six innings and allowing a 2-run homer in the second inning off of Freddy Galvis. The Cuban right hander also struck out seven batters.
“It was a really amazing experience for me to be able to throw really well on Opening Day,” Iglesias said.
Reach Chris Slone at 740-353-3101, ext 1930, or on Twitter @crslone.