Reds spoil opening of Phils#039; new ball park

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, April 13, 2004

PHILADELPHIA - The Philadelphia Phillies disappoint their fans no matter where they play their home games.

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

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

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''When this thing turns around, watch out,'' left fielder Pat Burrell said.

If the Phillies don't turn it around soon, it could get ugly at the new ballpark. The notoriously boorish Philly crowd booed loudly during the home opener, and some fans were chanting, ''Let's Go Flyers!'' by the seventh inning.

It was fitting that 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).

''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.''

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.

The crowd of 41,626 spent most of the afternoon hiding from the rain on a 48-degree day, and most of the seats in the upper deck were empty by the fifth inning.

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. 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 gave 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.''

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.

''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 groundballs.''

Wolf (0-1) allowed four runs and seven hits in five innings, and 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.

Notes: The Phillies won their first game at the Vet, beating the Montreal Expos 4-1 on April 10, 1971. They 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.