Reward for missing teacher increases to nearly $20,000

BY Allen Powell II

New Orleans bureau

ST. LOUIS — Brandon Phillips kick-started a nine-run ninth inning with a tiebreaking bloop double and Shin-Soo Choo made amends for two botched fly balls with a three-run double, and the Cincinnati Reds spoiled the St. Louis Cardinals’ home opener with a 13-4 victory Monday.

Mitchell Boggs (0-1), the stand-in closer for St. Louis, yielded six runs while getting only one out, and the Cardinals needed four more pitchers to get out of the inning. Only a few thousand fans remained of the largest regular-season crowd of 47,375 for the bottom of the ninth in eight-year-old Busch Stadium history.

The defending NL Central champions Cardinals held a tribute for Stan Musial before the game.

Phillips added his 150th career homer for the Reds, who have won six of seven since losing in extra innings to the Angels on opening day and totaled 11 or more hits the past four games. Jay Bruce had four hits, and Chris Heisey doubled twice with an RBI.

Sam LeCure (1-0) pitched an inning for the win.

Cardinals lefty Jamie Garcia matched his career best with 10 strikeouts in 6.2 innings and left with a 4-3 lead. Yadier Molina hit both of the fly balls dropped by Choo in the first and sixth, and added an RBI single.

Pinch-hitter Xavier Paul, a former Slidell High star, tied it in the eighth with an RBI single off Trevor Rosenthal before the Reds took off in the ninth with six hits, five walks and an error. The Cardinals last surrendered nine runs in the ninth in a 12-9 loss at Colorado July 6, 2010.

Before the game, Musial’s four children unveiled an oversized red No. 6, the Hall of Famer’s retired jersey number, on the wall in left-center. The decal matches memorial patches worn on the team’s uniforms.

Braves 2, Marlins 0: In Miami, Justin Upton went 4-for-4, including his sixth home run, and Paul Maholm allowed one hit in seven sharp innings for the Atlanta Braves.

Upton singled in the first, doubled in the fourth and homered in the sixth. With a chance at the cycle he singled in the eighth, which dropped his slugging percentage to 1.192 but raised his batting average to .423.

Craig Kimbrel struck out Adeiny Hechavarria with two on to complete the two-hitter for his third save.

The Braves earned their fourth consecutive victory and improved to 6-1, their best start since 2007. The Marlins lost their third game in a row and fell to 1-6, their worst start since 2006.

Brewers 7, Cubs 4: In Chicago, Marco Estrada pitched seven effective innings and doubled home a run, helping the Milwaukee Brewers stop a five-game slide with a 7-4 victory over the Chicago Cubs in the first game of the season at Wrigley Field.

With a strong wind blowing out at the start of the game, Estrada allowed two runs and five hits while bouncing back from a lackluster season debut against Colorado. The right-hander also drove in Alex Gonzalez with a drive into the gap in right-center during Milwaukee’s two-run seventh.

Norichika Aoki had three hits, and Ryan Braun had a successful return to the lineup after missing three games with a strained neck. Braun was 3-for-4 with two doubles.

Mets 7, Phillies 2: In Philadelphia, Matt Harvey threw seven impressive innings, and John Buck hit a three-run homer for the New York Mets.

Harvey (2-0) followed up a dominant first start with another sharp outing. He gave up one run, three hits and struck out nine. The 24-year-old righty allowed one hit and fanned 10 in seven scoreless innings against San Diego last Wednesday.

Phillies starter Roy Halladay (0-2) allowed seven runs and six hits in four-plus innings. He’s given up 12 runs in 7.1 innings in two starts after a tough spring.