Cincinnati, OH – Chris Heisey hit a two-run homer to help the Cincinnati Reds beat the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, 5-4, in the rubber match of baseball's first season-opening interleague series.
Heisey is hoping to make the most of his opportunity as the Reds' everyday left fielder following the injury to Ryan Ludwick. His blast was one of three given up by offseason addition Joe Blanton (0-1), who worked five innings in his Angels debut.
Bronson Arroyo (1-0) got the starting nod in the 20,000th game in Reds history and departed after six frames with his team up 5-3.
The Angels got within a run in the seventh and were threatening for more.
Reigning AL rookie of the year Mike Trout hustled for a leadoff double against Cincinnati reliever Alfredo Simon. A tremendous defensive play by second baseman Brandon Phillips momentarily saved a run as he reeled in a ground ball and threw Erick Aybar out at first base. Trout moved to third on the play and scored on an Albert Pujols groundout.
Simon then hit Josh Hamilton with a pitch and Mark Trumbo followed with a soft liner to right for an opposite-field double, but the right-hander ended the inning by retiring Howie Kendrick on a fly ball to right.
Sam LeCure struck out the side in the eighth for Cincinnati, and Reds closer Aroldis Chapman earned the save by fanning Hamilton with the tying run on second base.
The Reds won their first series against the Angels after dropping two of three in 2002 and 2007.
Cincinnati twice built leads, only for the Angels to fight back.
"We battled back (from a four-run deficit) last night and again this afternoon and got back into a game and had some opportunities," said Angels manager Mike Scioscia. "One key hit last night or one key hit this afternoon could have swung the game in our favor."
The Reds led off each of the first two innings with home runs.
Blanton's first pitch as an Angel was crushed over the left-field wall by Shin-Soo Choo. Todd Frazier then lined a Blanton offering just inside the foul pole in left field.
The Angels tied things up with a two-out rally in the third. Aybar kept the inning alive with a single and advanced to third on a double by Pujols. Both men then scored on Hamilton's first hit in an Angels uniform, a single to center field. Choo's throw beat Pujols to the plate, but Cincinnati catcher Ryan Hanigan whiffed on the sweep tag.
Frazier narrowly missed a second home as his drive hit the top of the left- field wall to start the fourth. An error by Trout on the play allowed Frazier to go to third and he scored the go-ahead run on Hanigan's sacrifice fly to right.
Pujols' sac fly in the next frame scored Trout and made it a 3-3 game, but Heisey quickly restored the lead when he followed a leadoff single by Choo in the bottom of the fifth with a smash to left.
"I've proven I can play the bench. I think I can start and hopefully I prove that," Heisey said.
Choo registered his sixth career leadoff home run ... Cincinnati pitchers set a new club record for the most strikeouts in the first three games of a season with 36 ... Aybar collected three hits ... The Angels were 1-for-9 with runners in scoring position ... Hamilton and Pujols went a combined 2-for-23 in the series.