Chicago at Atlanta

Chi. Cubs (0-1)302000000552
Atlanta (1-0) «62000062x16120

Heyward homers in first at-bat as Braves crush Zambrano, Cubs wire reports

ATLANTA -- His face and head covered in shaving cream and his first home run ball stashed safely away, Jason Heyward stood in front of his locker and beamed.

"I had a blast," he said.

He stole the show on opening day.


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Minutes after catching the ceremonial first pitch from Hank Aaron, Heyward hit a three-run homer in his first major league at-bat to spark the Braves to a 16-5 opening win Monday over Carlos Zambrano and the Chicago Cubs.

Heyward, who also had a run-scoring single in the eighth, was 2 for 5 with four RBI.

"It was the first of many career highlights for him," said Atlanta's Chipper Jones. "That was impressive, that was very impressive."

Braves fans in the sellout crowd eagerly embraced Heyward, from Henry County, about 30 minutes south of Atlanta.

Fans chanted "Let's go, Heyward!" as he confidently took two pitches in his first-inning at-bat, then sent a fastball from Zambrano into the Braves' bullpen behind the right-field wall on his first swing, sending the crowd over the top.

"I don't know that I've ever heard this stadium that loud," Jones said.

Added Heyward when asked how he felt as he ran around the bases: "I felt my legs but I couldn't hear myself think, it was so loud."

After the game, Braves reliever Peter Moylan crept behind a crowd of reporters and hit the rookie with a towel full of shaving cream.

"I guess shaving cream is a good thing," Heyward said with a smile.

Yunel Escobar drove in a career-high five runs as Zambrano gave up eight runs in 1 1/3 innings, matching the shortest of 239 career starts.

Marlon Byrd, playing his first game with the Cubs, hit a three-run homer in the first inning and Aramis Ramirez added a two-run drive in the third.

Derek Lowe (1-0) gave up five runs, five hits and three walks in six innings before a sellout crowd of 53,081, a record for a day game in Atlanta and was the fourth-largest overall in Atlanta history.

Brian McCann hit a homer in the second, when the Braves knocked out Zambrano (0-1), but opening day belonged to Heyward.

"He's good," Zambrano said. "Anybody can be good with two balls and no strikes, but you have to give him credit."

The 20-year-old Heyward became the sixth Braves player to homer in his debut, the fourth to do so in his first plate appearance. Jordan Schafer also did it last season.

Heyward answered cheers from the fans by tipping his cap at the edge of the dugout.

Heyward (6-5, 240) won the starting job in right field despite playing only 50 games above Class A in his quick rise through the minor leagues. He was selected baseball's top prospect by Baseball America after hitting .323 with 17 homers and 63 RBI at three minor league stops in 2009, and was put on the major league roster by the Braves just last Saturday.

"Jason had a spectacular day, really," said Braves manager Bobby Cox. "He'll have his struggles, probably, like any other 20-year-old in the big leagues, but he's a very talented kid. And when he's not hitting, he's going to help us in the outfield. He's a very gifted athlete."

Atlanta sent 10 batters to the plate in both the first and seventh innings.

"It was something of an embarrassing loss," said Cubs manager Lou Piniella. "Never did I anticipate we'd give up 16 runs on opening day, not in my wildest dreams."

In the first, Chipper Jones drove in Melky Cabrera when his shallow fly ball fell between shortstop Ryan Theriot and Byrd in center for a single. Escobar added a two-run single before Heyward's line-drive homer.

Making his sixth straight opening day start for the Cubs, Zambrano gave up six hits and two walks with one strikeout.

"I left some pitches over the middle," Zambrano said. "When you do that at this level, you're going to get crushed."

Braves center fielder Nate McLouth made running catches of drives hit by Ramirez in the first and Derrek Lee in the fifth. McLouth was credited with a diving catch of a ball hit by Byrd in the left-center gap in the sixth, though a replay showed the ball popped out of McLouth's glove when he hit the ground.

As umpires called out Byrd, McLouth threw the ball back to Escobar, whose throw to first base forced out Ramirez.

Piniella argued the ruling that McLouth made the catch. The umpires huddled but did not overturn the original call.

Escobar had a three-run double, and pinch-hitter Eric Hinske added a run-scoring triple off Jeff Samardzija in the seventh. Samardzija walked three batters in the six-run inning.

Six Chicago pitchers combined for eight walks.

"The thing that was so upsetting was we didn't walk people in spring training," Piniella said. "I complimented our pitchers on that."

Right-hander Takashi Saito and left-handed closer Billy Wagner pitched perfect innings in their Atlanta debuts to end the game.


  • McCann received his 2009 Silver Slugger award before the game.
  • New Cubs owner Tom Ricketts and his brother, Todd, attended the game.
  • Sean Marshall had five strikeouts in 2 2/3 perfect innings behind Zambrano.
  • Zambrano also lasted only 1 1/3 innings against Pittsburgh on Sept. 4, 2006.
  • The other Braves to homer in their first plate appearances were Joe Harrington (1895); Johnny Bates (1906) and Jermaine Dye (1996).
Copyright 2015 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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Rookie Jason Heyward doesn't wait long to endear himself to Braves fans ... his first swing, actually.  (AP)
Rookie Jason Heyward doesn't wait long to endear himself to Braves fans ... his first swing, actually. (AP)

Players of the Game

J. Heyward
AB 5
R 2
H 2
HR 1

A. Ramirez
AB 4
R 1
H 2
HR 1

Related Video

Chicago Cubs
Ryan Theriot, SS4000010 .000
Kosuke Fukudome, RF3220100 .667
Derrek Lee, 1B3100112 .000
Aramis Ramirez, 3B4122012 .500
Marlon Byrd, CF4113010 .250
Alfonso Soriano, LF4000020 .000
Mike Fontenot, 2B3000000 .000
Geovany Soto, C3000010 .000
Carlos Zambrano, P1000000 .000
    Sean Marshall, P0000000 .000
   a- Chad Tracy, PH0000100 .000
    James Russell, P0000000 .000
   b- Tyler Colvin, PH1000000 .000
    Jeff Samardzija, P0000000 .000
    Justin Berg, P0000000 .000
    John Grabow, P0000000 .000
a-walked for Marshall in the 5th
b-flied out for Russell in the 7th
2B - Kosuke Fukudome (1, Lowe)
HR - Aramis Ramirez (1, Lowe), Marlon Byrd (1, Lowe)
RBI - Aramis Ramirez 2 (2), Marlon Byrd 3 (3)
2-OUT RBI - Aramis Ramirez 2 (2), Marlon Byrd 3 (3)
Team LOB - 1
E - Derrek Lee (1, Throwing), Carlos Zambrano (1, Throwing)
Chicago Cubs
Carlos Zambrano (L,0-1) 1.1688212 54.00
Sean Marshall 2.2000050 0.00
James Russell 2200010 0.00
Jeff Samardzija 0.1264310108.00
Justin Berg 1222300 18.00
John Grabow 0.2000000 0.00
HBP - Prado (by Carlos Zambrano)
Pitches-Strikes - Carlos Zambrano 49-28, Sean Marshall 37-25, James Russell 28-22, Jeff Samardzija 25-12, Justin Berg 30-12, John Grabow 4-3
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Carlos Zambrano 2-1, Sean Marshall 2-1, James Russell 3-2, Jeff Samardzija 1-0, Justin Berg 1-2, John Grabow 1-1
Batters Faced - Carlos Zambrano 13, Sean Marshall 8, James Russell 8, Jeff Samardzija 7, Justin Berg 8, John Grabow 2
Atlanta Braves
Melky Cabrera, LF5100105 .000
Martin Prado, 2B4221011 .500
Chipper Jones, 3B4211111 .250
    Takashi Saito, P0000000 .000
    David Ross, C0000000 .000
Brian McCann, C3321200 .667
    Brooks Conrad, PR0100000 .000
    Billy Wagner, P0000000 .000
Troy Glaus, 1B3210223 .333
Yunel Escobar, SS5225002 .400
Jason Heyward, RF5224011 .400
Nate McLouth, CF3010221 .333
Derek Lowe, P1000010 .000
    Peter Moylan, P0000000 .000
   a- Eric Hinske, PH11110001.000
    Omar Infante, 3B1001000 .000
a-tripled for Moylan in the 7th
2B - Yunel Escobar (1, Samardzija)
3B - Eric Hinske (1, Samardzija)
HR - Brian McCann (1, Zambrano), Jason Heyward (1, Zambrano)
SH - Derek Lowe 2 (2)
RBI - Martin Prado (1), Chipper Jones (1), Brian McCann (1), Yunel Escobar 5 (5), Jason Heyward 4 (4), Eric Hinske (1), Omar Infante (1)
2-OUT RBI - Martin Prado (1)
SB - Chipper Jones (1, 2nd base off Samardzija/Soto)
Team LOB - 6
Outfield Assists - Nate McLouth 1
DP - Escobar-Glaus, McLouth-Escobar-Glaus
Atlanta Braves
Derek Lowe (W,1-0) 6555322 7.50
Peter Moylan (H,1) 1000010 0.00
Takashi Saito 1000020 0.00
Billy Wagner 1000020 0.00
Pitches-Strikes - Derek Lowe 78-44, Peter Moylan 10-7, Takashi Saito 17-10, Billy Wagner 11-8
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Derek Lowe 9-5, Peter Moylan 1-1
Batters Faced - Derek Lowe 24, Peter Moylan 3, Takashi Saito 3, Billy Wagner 3
Game Information
Attendance - 53081
Game Time - 2:45
Temperature - 86
Umpires - Home - Derryl Cousins, First Base - Jim Joyce, Second Base - Marvin Hudson, Third Base - Jim Wolf