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Webb, Arizona spoil Reds opener

CINCINNATI — Brandon Webb never got tickets to opening day in Cincinnati. After beating his favorite team Monday, the Reds might be regretting their neglect.

Webb, who grew up in Ashland, Ky., rooting for the Reds, haunted his childhood team as he pitched six solid innings to get his first opening day win in the Arizona Diamondbacks 4-2 victory.

“Opening day is so special here in Cincinnati. To do it so close here and have that many fans behind me, it was definitely sweet,” said Webb.

Webb went six innings for the win. He struck out six, walked four, gave up just three hits, and two runs — both earned.

“We had a lot of people, but I think half of them were from Webb’s hometown,” said Reds first-year manager Dusty Baker.

“He pitched an outstanding game against us. That’s not the outcome you want to have.”

Webb only grinned at the large number of fans in attendance to cheer him.

“I swear they sneak in,” said Webb.

Reds’ starter Aaron Harang pitched six strong innings but was the victim of two solo home runs. He gave up just three hits, struck out six, walked two, and two of the three runs he allowed were earned.

Arizona got an unearned run in the first inning. Orlando Hudson was safe on a one-out error when Reds’ third baseman Edwin Encarnacion made a bad throw to first base on an easy ground ball.

Hudson moved up on a wild pitch but held his position when Eric Byrnes grounded out. Connor Jackson singled to scored Hudson and it was 1-0.

The D-Backs burned Harang in the third inning on solo home runs by Chris Young and Byrnes.

“Those two were the biggest itches of the game. They cost me. I was just missing in that inning off the plate — my slider and fastball both. Luckily, they were both solo ones,” said Harang.

Cincinnati drew within 3-2 in the fourth inning on just one hit.

Ken Griffey Jr., playing in his 20th opening day, walked and scored on a triple to centerfield by Brandon Phillips when the ball got past a diving Young.

Adam Dunn grounded out to second to score Phillips.

Arizona added an insurance run in the seventh inning when pinch-hitter Jeff Salazar hit a two-out solo home run. It was Salazar’s third career home run, all via the pinch-hit variety.

The Reds never threatened the rest of the game and finished with 10 strikeouts.

“I think we were trying to do too much. It was like we were trying to prove something instead of trying to win the game. A lot of guys were swinging at balls they don’t normally swing at,” said Phillips.

“(Webb) did his job. Give it to him. He’s their number one starter for a reason. He showed us today,”

Webb left the game after throwing 90 pitches, 56 or strikes.

Harang threw 99 pitches with 65 for strikes.

“His pitch count got kind of high in that one inning (third). He found the cente of the plate, which isn’t typical of Aaron. He lost his release point very briefly and then got it back. The damage had been done,” said Baker.

Close wins are nothing new to the Diamondbacks who won 32 one-run games last season en route to winning the National League pennant.

“Similar to the way we semi-drew it up last year, at least at the end there,” said Arizona manager Bob Melvin. “Big hits four our guys, albeit not too many of them.”