PHILADELPHIA - Down eight runs with four outs left, Jimmy Rollins wasn’t looking for a walk with his hitting streak on the line.
Rollins kept up his pursuit of Joe DiMaggio’s major league record 56-game hitting streak with a double off a 3-0 pitch in the eighth inning, but it was the lone bright spot for the Philadelphia Phillies in their season opener on Monday.
Albert Pujols homered twice, Scott Rolen hit a grand slam and the St. Louis Cardinals’ potent offense pounded out 17 hits in a 13-5 victory.
Rollins was 0-for-3 with a sacrifice fly before he lined a shot off Adam Wainwright down the right-field line.
“If he had thrown a ball and I couldn’t get to it, I wouldn’t have swung,” Rollins said about swinging with a 3-0 count. “I wasn’t going to give the at-bat away.”
Chris Carpenter pitched five effective innings for the win, though he wasn’t as sharp as he was most of last season, when he went 21-5 and won the NL Cy Young Award. Carpenter allowed four runs and nine hits.
Rolen was 3-for-5 with four RBIs, Pujols was 2-for-2 with four RBIs and Aaron Miles had four hits, including two doubles and a triple. Every Cardinals starter, including Carpenter, had a hit by the time St. Louis completed an eight-run fourth inning.
“There’s no way to explain it, coming here swinging the bats like that,” Cardinals manager Tony LaRussa said. “There were a lot of hits in that ballgame, but in the end, we had a couple of big damaging ones.”
Pat Burrell and Ryan Howard homered for the Phillies, who ended up with their worst opening-day loss since the Brooklyn Dodgers’ 12-3 victory in 1935.
The nation grieved for those hurt, killed and affected by the Boston Marathon bombings. After one of the suspects was caught on Friday — following a day-long lockdown and manhunt — sports returned to Boston over the weekend.
It was so ugly in Philadelphia that even the mascot had a bad day. The Phillie Phanatic’s four-wheeler briefly stalled near the third-base line in the sixth inning, forcing the teams to wait a bit before starting play.
“It was a rough first game for us,” manager Charlie Manuel said.
Loser Jon Lieber picked up where he left off in spring training, giving up eight runs and nine hits in 3 1-3 innings.
Lieber finished 17-13 in his first season in Philadelphia, and was one of the league’s best pitchers over the final month when he was 5-1 with a 2.06 ERA in his last seven starts. But he allowed 12 runs and 19 hits in 10 innings in his last two starts this spring, and continued his struggles into his seventh opening day start.
HBT: Carlos Ruiz was lifted from Sunday afternoon’s game against the Reds after straining his right hamstring while running the bases in the bottom of the second inning.
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