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Reds caught looking wrong way

CINCINNATI — The ‘new look’ Cincinnati Reds weren’t that attractive.

The Reds dumped their slugger-style offense of the past by trading Adam Dunn and Ken Griffey Jr. in an effort to arm themselves with pitching, speed and defense.

While the pitching held up its end of the bargain, the other components didn’t make enough of the necessary plays as the Reds lost their season opener 2-1 to the New York Mets on Monday before a sellout crowd of 42,177 at Great American Ball Park.

“Today we made some careless errors,” said Reds’ second baseman Brandon Phillips. “Things happen. Base-running mistakes, walking some batters, the hitting … we didn’t come through.”

Aaron Harang, starting his fourth straight opener for the Reds, pitched five solid innings and allowed one earned run, a solo home run by Mets’ leftfielder Daniel Murphy in the fifth inning that broke a scoreless tie.

“I loved the way he pitched,” Reds’ manager Dusty Baker said of Harang’s performance. “His zip and velocity were back. He had a sharp breaking ball. He got some tough hitters out in some tough jams.”

But New York’s Johan Santana was more than up to the challenge. In 5.2 innings, Santana gave up three hits and one run while striking out seven and walking four.

“We had a tough customer and one of the best in the business in Johan Santana,” said Baker.

The Mets had their own new-look with a revamped bullpen. Sean Green,J.J. Putz and closer Francisco Rodriguez limited the Reds to no hits and only two balls leaving the infield in 3.1-innings.

“They’ve got a totally different bullpen,” said Baker. “They spent a lot of money on it. They’ve got two closers. They shored up the area they wanted to shore up. You certainly want to get to them before they go there.”

Murphy hit a one-out home run off a 3-2 pitch from Harang in the fifth. It was the only solid hit among the seven hits the right-hander allowed.

“You get a 3-2 count, I’m not gong to try to nitpick around it,” said Harang. “I just went right at him and missed my spot. He hit the ball out of the ballpark.

“I had to get out of some jams in the fourth and fifth innings. Some balls fell in. I fell behind a little bit and really had to battle.”

Harang and the bullpen got in a few jams because of the defense.

Centerfielder Darnell McDonald, starting in place of Willie Taveras who missed the game due to the flu, got a poor jump on a fly ball by David Wright after Murphy’s home run that fell in for a double.

Carlos Delgado followed with a blooper to short leftfield that should have been caught but fell untouched among shortstop Alex Gonzalez, leftfielder Jerry Hairston Jr., and McDonald.

Carlos Beltran hit a hard single that right-fielder Jay Bruce bobbled momentarily. Wright slowed down, then took off on the bobble only to have the strong-armed Bruce gun him down at the plate.

Ryan Church followed with a hard ground ball that Phillips — who was presented his Gold Glove before the game — made a diving stop and threw to first base to end the inning.

Reliever Daniel Ray Herrera took over in the sixth inning for Harang but didn’t match his spring performance. Herrera retired 26 of the 30 batters he faced during the exhibition season, but he gave up almost as many baserunners in his brief two-thirds of an inning stint.

Luis Castillo doubled to open the inning and then Herrera walked Santana and Jose Reyes. Murphy grounded out to first baseman Joey Votto as Castillo scored what proved to be the winning run.

Cincinnati answered that run in the bottom of the inning.

McDonald had a broken bat single and Votto had a base hit. McDonald went to third base on Votto’s hit and a throwing error by Delgado put runners on second and third. Phillips hit a sacrifice fly to score McDonald.

Green came on to get the final out and prevent any further damage and pitched a scoreless seventh inning. Putz, another free-agent signing, walked a batter in a scoreless eighth and Rodriguez pitched a perfect ninth.

“That’s what they expect from us all year long. This game the bullpen did a tremendous job,” said Rodriguez who signed a three-year, $37 million deal in the off-season.

The start of the game was delayed 10 minutes and it was played in 37-degree temperatures and with a light rain early.

“I never headed outside when it was anything like this,” said Votto who grew up in Canada. “You play hockey in this weather, not baseball.”

Mets 2, Reds 1

New York Cincinnati

ab r h bi ab r h bi

Reyes ss 4 0 1 0 Hairstn Jr lf 4 0 0 0

Murphy lf 5 1 1 2 McDonld cf 3 1 1 0

Rodrigz p 0 0 0 0 Dickrsn ph-cf 0 0 0 0

Wright 3b 3 0 1 0 Votto 1b 3 0 1 0

Delgad 1b 4 0 2 0 Phillips 2b 2 0 0 1

Beltran cf 4 0 1 0 Bruce rf 4 0 1 0

Church rf 4 0 2 0 Encrnc 3b 2 0 0 0

Schndr c 4 0 0 0 Hernandez c 4 0 0 0

Castillo 2b 3 1 1 0 Gonzalez ss 3 0 0 0

Santan p 2 0 0 0 Harang p 1 0 0 0

Green p 0 0 0 0 Owings ph 1 0 0 0

Andersn ph 1 0 0 0 Herrer p 0 0 0 0

Putz p 0 0 0 0 Lincoln p 0 0 0 0

Reed lf 0 0 0 0 Rhodes p 0 0 0 0

Nix ph 1 0 0 0

Weathers p 0 0 0 0

Corder p 0 0 0 0

Totals 34 2 9 2 Totals 28 1 3 1

New York 000 011 000 — 2

Cincinnati 000 001 000 — 1

E—Beltran 2 (2), McDonald 2 (2). LOB—New York 12, Cincinnati 6. 2B—Castillo (1), Bruce (1). HR—Murphy (1). SB—Reyes (1), Church (1). CS—Wright (1). SF—Phillips.

IP H R ER BB SO

New York

Santana W,1-0 5 2-3 3 1 1 4 7

Green H,1 1 1-3 0 0 0 0 0

Putz H,1 1 0 0 0 1 1

Rodriguez S,1-1 1 0 0 0 0 1

Cincinnati

Harang L,0-1 5 7 1 1 3 2

Herrera 2-3 1 1 1 2 0

Lincoln 1-3 0 0 0 1 0

Rhodes 1 0 0 0 0 0

Weathers 1 0 0 0 0 0

Cordero 1 1 0 0 1 1

Umpires—Home, Tim Welke; First, Angel Hernandez; Second, Bill Welke; Third, Jim Reynolds. T—3:17. A—42,177 (42,319).