“I felt fine. The results are a little embarrassing,” Lieber said. “I have nobody to blame but myself.”
Lieber struck out the first two batters he faced, before Pujols walked after a close call on a two-strike pitch. Jim Edmonds then lined a triple into the right-field corner to give St. Louis a 1-0 lead. Lieber fanned Rolen to end the inning, but it only got worse from there.
Pujols, the reigning NL MVP, hit a solo homer in the third and the Cardinals broke it open in the fourth. Miles had a two-run triple off Lieber, and Rolen made it 10-0 when he homered deep into the left-field seats off Julio Santana after Edmonds was intentionally walked to load the bases.
It was Rolen’s first regular-season game since July. The four-time All-Star third baseman missed two-thirds of the season with a left shoulder injury that required two operations. Rolen, who became unpopular in Philadelphia after forcing a trade from the Phillies in 2002, was loudly booed every time he came up.
“I’ll take three hits on opening day anywhere,” Rolen said. “I felt better the last two weeks of spring. I felt I could drive the ball. Things change when you get in a major league stadium, the atmosphere changes, the ball seems to travel a little farther.”
The Phillies raised the left-field wall 2½ feet from 8 feet and angled it back 5 feet to cut down on homers — there were 429 hit in the first two seasons at Citizens Bank Park.
But it didn’t matter to Pujols, whose first shot landed deep into the left-field seats and his second one reached the upper deck. Each of the five homers hit went to left-center or left field, including Howard’s opposite-field shot in the sixth.
St. Louis is coming off a disappointing end to a 100-win season. The Cardinals won their second straight NL Central title, but lost to wild-card winner Houston in the NL championship series. St. Louis has won at least 93 games in five of the last six seasons, but lost to Boston in 2004 in its only World Series appearance in that stretch.
Philadelphia finished one game behind NL wild-card winner Houston and two games behind NL East champion Atlanta.
Notes: The Phillies are 56-66-2 in season openers. St. Louis is 53-60-2 on opening day, including 19-32-2 on the road. ... The Cardinals have five more games on the road before playing their home opener at new Busch Stadium against Milwaukee on April 10. ... CF Aaron Rowand, acquired in the trade that sent Jim Thome to the Chicago White Sox, doubled in his first at-bat for the Phillies.
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