CINCINNATI -- Cesar Hernandez started Opening Day the right way for the Phillies, with a leadoff home run to begin the game before they hung on to a 4-3 victory over the Reds in front of a sold-out crowd of 43,804 fans at Great American Ball Park on Monday. The long ball was one of seven extra-base hits collected by Philadelphia during the afternoon.
Reds starter Scott Feldman started Hernandez in a 0-2 count, but he gave up the homer to right field on a 3-2 pitch. Feldman labored through the first, which also included a two-out RBI double by Michael Saunders for a 2-0 Phillies lead. A one-out homer to right field by Freddy Galvis made it 3-0 in the second inning.
"I tell you what," Phillies manager Pete Mackanin said. "We don't need power from the corners. We've got our power from the middle infielders. Cesar and Freddy, the two littlest guys on the field. It was good to see."
That was enough to work with for winning Philadelphia starter Jeremy Hellickson, who allowed one earned run and six hits over five-plus innings with one walk and one strikeout. Cincinnati got on the scoreboard in the third inning when Zack Cozart and Tucker Barnhart started with singles before Billy Hamilton lofted a sacrifice fly with the bases loaded.
Feldman retired eight of the next 10 immediately following Galvis' homer before allowing a two-out double and a walk in the fifth. He finished with three earned runs and seven hits over 4 2/3 innings, with two walks and six strikeouts.
"That game could have gotten away and it didn't, in large part because Scott was able to handle that situation and limit the damage," Reds manager Bryan Price said.
Three Phillies relievers combined for three scoreless innings in the sixth, seventh and eighth until Scooter Gennett lofted a two-run homer with two outs in the bottom of the ninth against Jeanmar Gomez. Hamilton flied out for the third out to end the game, giving Gomez the save.
"I'm concerned," Mackanin said about Gomez. "I had two guys up in the 'pen in that ninth inning [Joely Rodriguez and Pat Neshek]. He's just not getting the ball down the way he did when he was successful. I want to make sure that he gets opportunities, but at the same time, I don't want to let games slip away."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Hellickson's triple: Hellickson hit a two-out triple to right to score a run in the sixth to give the Phillies a 4-1 lead. It proved to be the game-winning run. It was the first triple by a pitcher on Opening Day since the Giants' Jack Sanford did it against the Colt .45s at Colt Stadium on April 9, 1963. It was the first triple by a Phillies pitcher on Opening Day since Erskine Mayer hit one against the Boston Braves at Baker Bowl on April 16, 1918.
"I was catching my breath for about 30 minutes after I got back in here," Hellickson said. "Last time I'm doing that."
Reds' missed chances: The Reds were 0-for-7 with runners in scoring position before Gennett's late homer. They twice had the bases loaded, however, and cashed in one run on the Hamilton sac fly. That was followed by Jose Peraza grounding into the inning-ending 6-4-3 double in the third. In the fourth with the bases loaded and one out, Cozart and Barnhart flied out to get Hellickson out of another jam.
"We didn't come through when we needed to," said Hamilton, who hit a two-out triple in the seventh and was left stranded. "We just have to keep getting better. It was a situation that when we needed the big hit, we didn't get the big hit."
"I just made a couple of poor executions on a couple of pitches. Unfortunately, the balls went out of the yard. I felt fine. Execution-wise, I wasn't as good as I needed to be and my pitch count got up way too high." -- Feldman, who threw 99 pitches in his start
"I have to tell you, nobody believed it. But it was good." -- Galvis, joking about his good friend Hernandez's homer in the first. Hernandez hit just six homers last season
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
It was a solid afternoon for the Reds' bullpen, with five relievers working a combined 4 1/3 innings with one earned run allowed. Perhaps it was the start of a turnaround from last season, when Cincinnati's relievers had the most runs allowed (356) and homers (103) in the Majors.
WHAT'S NEXT Phillies: Right-hander Jerad Eickhoff makes his 2017 debut Wednesday at 7:10 p.m. ET against the Reds. Eickhoff flew under the radar last season because of poor run support, which affected his 11-14 record, but he posted a 3.65 ERA in 197 1/3 innings over 33 starts.
Reds:Brandon Finnegan will make his 2017 debut when the series resumes Wednesday following Tuesday's off-day. Finnegan had a 7.63 ERA in his five Cactus League starts.
Mark Sheldon has covered the Reds for MLB.com since 2006, and previously covered the Twins from 2001-05. Follow him on Twitter @m_sheldon and Facebook and listen to his podcast. Todd Zolecki has covered the Phillies since 2003, and for MLB.com since 2009. Follow him on Twitter and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.