Pirates Blast Phils Early to Ruin Home Opener

A packed house, a tribute to Tug McGraw and the home debut of Jim Thome couldn't keep the Phillies from dropping their final home opener at Veterans Stadium. The Pittsburgh Pirates continued their hot run winning their fourth straight without a loss, beating the Phillies 9-1 on a cold Friday afternoon, reminiscent of the weather on that first Vet opener 32 years ago.

Joe Roa (0-1) didn't have anything going for him as he allowed five runs in the first inning and another in the second inning to force an early exit against the Pirates. The big blow was a grand slam from Reggie Sanders who has four homeruns and eleven RBI through the first four games of the season for Pittsburgh. Hector Mercado relieved Roa and threw five innings to help save the bullpen from too much damage, but did allow three earned runs, including a homerun to Pokey Reese, who was just 1-for-15 until hitting the seventh inning homerun.

Jim Thome, who was cheered wildly in pre-game introductions, lined the first pitch he saw to left-center for a triple. Thome missed a homerun by about a foot as the Phillies homerun drought continued. In their first four games, the Phils have just one homerun. Thome scored on a groundball by Pat Burrell, cutting the Pirates lead to 5-1 at the time.

The game was the fifth home opener to sell out in the history of Veterans Stadium. The pre-game ceremony included patriotic songs, the introduction of members of the 1971 team that opened Veterans Stadium and a tribute to Tug McGraw. Fans were urged to wave Rally Towels given to all fans entering the stadium as a tribute to McGraw who is recovering from brain surgery in Tampa, Florida. Both teams wore uniforms of the style that they wore in 1971 and will continue to wear the uniforms for the entire weekend series.

The Phils and Pirates matchup again Saturday afternoon with Kevin Millwood (1-0) going against Jeff D'Amico, who is making his first start for the Pirates.

Phillies fans react to the introduction of Bobby Abreu at the final home opener in Veterans Stadium history.

Philly Baseball Insider Top Stories