Once the Philadelphia Phillies finished celebrating their World Series title, the Atlanta Braves spoiled the rest of the opening-night party.
Derek Lowe pitched eight superb innings, three Braves homered off Brett Myers and Atlanta beat the defending champions 4-1 in the major league opener on Sunday night.
Brian McCann hit a two-run homer, Jeff Francoeur had a solo shot and Jordan Schafer went deep in his first career at-bat for the Braves.
Lowe (1-0) allowed two hits, no walks, struck out four and the sinkerballer got 13 groundouts. Mike Gonzalez pitched out of trouble in the ninth.
Gonzalez gave up a one-out RBI single to Jayson Werth after pinch-hitter Eric Bruntlett started the inning with a double. After walking Chase Utley to bring up the tying run, the hard-throwing lefty struck out Ryan Howard looking and Raul Ibanez swinging to end it.
Lowe had far better success against Philadelphia on Sunday than he did in the NL championship series for Los Angeles. The Phillies beat Lowe in Game 1 of the NLCS and he had a no-decision in the Dodgers' loss in Game 4.
Atlanta gave Lowe a $60 million, four-year contract, and the 35-year-old right-hander pitched like an ace in his debut with his new team. He gave the Braves the type of masterful effort they used to get from Greg Maddux, John Smoltz, Tom Glavine and Tim Hudson.
Myers (0-1) filled in for Cole Hamels, whose first start was pushed back because of minor elbow problems. Hamels, the NLCS and World Series MVP, is expected to pitch at Colorado on Friday.
The Phillies celebrated the franchise's second World Series title during an hour-long ceremony before the game. Led by the Phanatic and veteran pitcher Jamie Moyer, players entered the field from Ashburn Alley behind the stands in left-center. They walked past adoring fans in the aisles, down stairs and onto a red carpet that stretched from the warning track to the infield.
Then, manager Charlie Manuel raised the 2008 championship flag on the concourse behind the brick batter's eye. After a giant American flag was unfurled in the outfield, players were introduced to rousing ovations. Fans who used to boo Manuel lustily chanted "Charlie, Charlie" when the lovable skipper jogged out.
Even their uniforms had a special look only for this game. All the red lettering and numbers were trimmed in gold.
The festive crowd of 44,532 had barely settled into their seats by the time the Braves jumped ahead. Making his third straight opening-day start, Myers retired the first two batters before Chipper Jones lined a single to left. McCann followed with a shot that reached the second deck in right field.
A smattering boos were heard while McCann circled the bases. It wouldn't be Philly without some jeers.
Francoeur led off the second with a liner to the seats in left. One batter later, Schafer drove one out to center. The rookie center fielder became the fifth Atlanta player to homer in his debut and first since Francoeur did it in 2005.
Myers settled in after that inning. He allowed four runs and eight hits, striking out six in six innings. Coming off a down-and-up season in which he was briefly demoted to the minors, the 28-year-old right-hander has plenty riding on his performance because he's in the final season of a $25.75, three-year contract.
The Phillies are favorites to win their third straight NL East title mainly because they have nearly the same team that went 11-3 against Milwaukee, Los Angeles and Tampa Bay last October.
But Philadelphia's star-studded offense sputtered in the opener. Jimmy Rollins, Utley and Howard combined to go 1-for-11 with two strikeouts.
Notes: The Phillies are 56-69-2 in openers. They've lost four straight openers for the first time since dropping eight in a row from 1985-92. ... The Braves are 19-25 in openers since moving to Atlanta. ... Schafer is the first Braves player to make his big-league debut on opening day since LF Rufino Linares in 1981. ... Jones set an Atlanta record by playing in his 14th season opener. ... NASA astronaut Chris Ferguson presented a Phillies jersey that he wore in space to Manuel before the game. ... Miss America Katie Stam sang the national anthem.Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun