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Dunn's two home runs lead Reds, spoil Piniella's debut

CBS SportsLine.com wire reports
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CINCINNATI -- Adam Dunn is thinking more like Ichiro but still swinging like the Bambino.

So far, the weird approach is working.

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More intent on putting the ball in play, Dunn homered in his first two at-bats on Monday, leading the Cincinnati Reds to a 5-1 victory that spoiled Lou Piniella's debut as the Chicago Cubs' manager.

Dunn led the NL in strikeouts each of the last three seasons, fanning nearly 200 times per year. He has worked with new hitting coach Brook Jacoby on putting the ball in play, and joked during spring training that he will remind everyone of Seattle's slap-hitting Ichiro Suzuki.

No resemblance so far.

"We didn't really change a lot," Dunn said. "It's more of a feel, kind of getting a feel for what I'm trying to do. I know that doesn't make sense to some people. I felt good all spring, I felt good today, I hope I feel good for 161 more games."

While Dunn got away from his all-or-nothing approach, right-hander Aaron Harang had his way with a Cubs lineup that got an offseason infusion of power. Harang allowed one unearned run in seven innings, the deepest a Reds starter has gone on opening day since Jose Rijo in 1993.

"I was out there ready to go," Harang said. "Once I got that first strike, I started feeling pretty confident in myself."

It was a glum day all around for the Cubs, who spent more than $300 million on players in the offseason and brought in Piniella to manage a retooled team that had finished last in the NL Central.

Alfonso Soriano, who got an eight-year, $136 million deal, had an infield single in four at-bats. Chicago's only run was unearned, courtesy of Ryan Freel's throwing error in center field.

"We are going to get off to a fast start," Piniella said. "Just because you lose the first game doesn't mean ... It's just one ballgame."

A few hours before the game, the Cubs were surprised by news that Tribune Co. plans to sell the team at the end of the season. Piniella held a team meeting and told his players not to let it distract them.

Instead, they were staggered by a power hitter determined to cut down on his strikeouts and a starting pitcher determined to make good on his second chance.

Dunn hit a two-run homer in the first inning off loser Carlos Zambrano, a line drive into the seats in right field. The next time up, Dunn hit the first pitch deep into the seats in right-center.

It was his second two-homer game on opening day -- he also did it against the Mets in 2005 -- and gave him a club-record five homers in opening games.

"I'm not trying to, but I'm going to hit homers," said Dunn, who has hit 40 in each of the last three years. "I don't know how many. The big thing is to make contact."

At that point, it was up to Harang, who wasn't about to let the Cubs put up another sweet 16. In each of their last two season openers, the Cubs had piled up 16 runs. Last year, Harang had a big hand in it.

His pregame warmup was interrupted by President Bush's visit to the clubhouse a year ago, and he didn't feel right from the outset. Harang gave up five runs in the first inning of Chicago's 16-7 win, the most runs a Cincinnati team gave up on opening day since 1877.

Eager to show that last year's opener was a historic fluke, Harang took control from the first pitch -- a fastball to Soriano for a called strike. He pitched out of the Cubs' biggest threat, retiring Cesar Izturis on a popup with the bases loaded in the fourth.

By contrast, Zambrano had another first-game meltdown. Zambrano started those last two 16-run openers, but failed to go five innings in either one. He gave up five runs in five innings on Monday.

"Not at any time was I frustrated," said Zambrano, who screamed and waved his arms as he came off the field after the fifth inning. "I made some mistakes early and paid. I was feeling great today. I wish I could feel all year long like I feel today."

Zambrano is eligible to become a free agent after the World Series and had said he wouldn't negotiate beyond opening day. On Sunday, his agent extended the deadline indefinitely, a sign the sides are nearing agreement on a five-year deal that would be worth about $80 million.

Notes

  • Pete Rose, who is honored by a special exhibit at the Reds' Hall of Fame, watched from a seat behind home plate. Rose has attended several games in Cincinnati since his lifetime banishment for gambling in 1989.
  • Reds OF Josh Hamilton, making a comeback from cocaine addiction, got a standing ovation from the crowd of 42,720 -- second-largest in the ballpark's five-year history -- when he pinch-hit.
  • Ken Griffey Jr. went 2-for-3 and remained tied with Eddie Matthews, Willie Mays and Babe Ruth for second on the career opening-game home run list with seven. Frank Robinson hit eight. Griffey hasn't homered on opening day since 1999, the year before he joined the Reds.
 
Copyright 2014 by STATS LLC and The Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and The Associated Press is strictly prohibited.
 
 
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Reds slugger Adam Dunn stings the Cubs with a two-run homer in the first inning.  (AP)
Reds slugger Adam Dunn stings the Cubs with a two-run homer in the first inning. (AP)

Players of the Game
Cincinnati

A. Dunn
AB 4
R 2
H 2
HR 2
RBI 3
Cincinnati

A. Harang
IP 7.0
H 6
ER 0
BB 2
K 5
 
Chicago Cubs
Alfonso Soriano, CF4010000 .250
Matt Murton, LF4110032 .250
Derrek Lee, 1B3020100 .667
Aramis Ramirez, 3B4010002 .250
Jacque Jones, RF4010001 .250
Michael Barrett, C4000002 .000
Mark DeRosa, 2B2010100 .500
    Neal Cotts, P0000000 .000
    Michael Wuertz, P0000000 .000
    Will Ohman, P0000000 .000
   a- Cliff Floyd, PH1000000 .000
Cesar Izturis, SS4010004 .250
Carlos Zambrano, P2000021 .000
    Ryan Theriot, 2B2000011 .000
Totals3418026  
a-popped out for Ohman in the 9th
Batting
CS - Derrek Lee (1, 2nd base by Harang/Ross)
Team LOB - 8
Chicago Cubs
Carlos Zambrano (L,0-1) 5655522 9.00
Neal Cotts 1.2200010 0.00
Michael Wuertz 0.1000110 0.00
Will Ohman 1000020 0.00
HBP - B. Phillips (by Carlos Zambrano)
WP - Carlos Zambrano (1)
Pitches-Strikes - Carlos Zambrano 92-45, Neal Cotts 29-19, Michael Wuertz 4-0, Will Ohman 10-8
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Carlos Zambrano 8-4
Batters Faced - Carlos Zambrano 26, Neal Cotts 7, Michael Wuertz 2, Will Ohman 3
Cincinnati Reds
Ryan Freel, CF4120111 .500
Adam Dunn, LF4223111 .500
    David Weathers, P0000000 .000
Brandon Phillips, 2B2100111 .000
Ken Griffey Jr., RF3120100 .667
Edwin Encarnacion, 3B4010006 .250
Scott Hatteberg, 1B3001104 .000
Alex Gonzalez, SS2011100 .500
David Ross, C4000025 .000
Aaron Harang, P2000010 .000
    Kirk Saarloos, P0000000 .000
   a- Josh Hamilton, PH-LF1000000 .000
Totals2958566  
a-lined out for Saarloos in the 8th
Batting
2B - Ryan Freel (1, Cotts)
HR - Adam Dunn 2 (2, Zambrano, Zambrano)
SF - Alex Gonzalez (1)
SH - Aaron Harang (1)
RBI - Adam Dunn 3 (3), Scott Hatteberg (1), Alex Gonzalez (1)
Team LOB - 9
Fielding
E - Ryan Freel (1, Throwing)
Cincinnati Reds
Aaron Harang (W,1-0) 7610250 0.00
Kirk Saarloos 1100010 0.00
David Weathers 1100000 0.00
WP - Aaron Harang (1)
Pitches-Strikes - Aaron Harang 118-77, Kirk Saarloos 13-8, David Weathers 9-7
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Aaron Harang 4-11, Kirk Saarloos 2-0, David Weathers 1-2
Batters Faced - Aaron Harang 28, Kirk Saarloos 4, David Weathers 4
Game Information
Attendance - 42720
Game Time - 2:31
Temperature - 72
Umpires - Home - Randy Marsh, First Base - Bob Davidson, Second Base - Sam Holbrook, Third Base - Hunter Wendelstedt