Only 42,892 fans watched Cincinnati's once-great Reds play baseball's traditional opener yesterday and one of the ghosts of glories past, Dave Concepcion, won the game with an eighth-inning single.
But it was rookie Gary Redus' opener. He made the fielding play of the game, then homered as the Reds beat the National League West champion Atlanta Braves, 5-4.
With two runs already home in the second inning, Glenn Hubbard hit a ball toward the left field fence. Redus caught it an instant before his face smashed against the wall. He cut the inside of his mouth, staggered momentarily, but held onto the ball.
"It was just a heckuva play," Manager Joe Torre of the Braves said. "That ball was going to be at least a double and there still wouldn't have been anyone out in that inning."
"The key play for us," Manager Russ Nixon of the Reds said. Redus, whose .333 in Indianapolis included 24 homers, also homered in the seventh inning.
"This is the way we're supposed to play the game," said Concepcion, who broke a 4-4 tie with a soft single to right.
Phil Niekro, 44, started for the Braves and gave up four runs on four hits before Steve Bedrosian relieved in the eighth. Bedrosian got two outs, but Milner singled and stole second. That brought up Concepcion, who is beginning his 13th season as the Reds' shortstop.
Mario Soto, the Reds' starter, yielded five hits and four runs--two of them earned--during his eight innings. Tom Hume got the save.
The Reds were 61-101 last year and yesterday's victory gave them their first winning record since last April 9.
Riverfront Stadium holds 52,392. Yesterday's crowd was the smallest for an opener since the strike-delayed 1972 season, when many fans boycotted opening day.