CINCINNATI - The vast majority of the 42,498 fans that packed Great American Ballpark in Cincinnati on Monday were rooting for the Reds.
At least 28 however, went home happy when the Arizona Diamondbacks defeated Cincinnati 4-2 in both team's season openers.
The 28 happy fans were members of Ashland, Ky. native Brandon Webb's contingent of family and friends. Webb earned the win on Monday, showing good command despite a shaky spring training.
"Look at his spring training numbers and you can throw them out," Arizona manager Bob Melvin said. "It looked like, from the minute he went out there, he had his good stuff."
Webb held the Reds scoreless through the first three innings before walking Ken Griffey Jr. and giving up an RBI triple to Brandon Phillips. Adam Dunn grounded out to second on the next at-bat allowing Phillips to come in from third, bringing the Reds within one at 3-2. Cincinnati would not score again.
Webb's line on the day was six innings pitched, three hits, two earned runs, four walks and six strikeouts.
While winning was the ultimate goal, Webb said the day held special meaning.
"I had a lot of family here and a lot of friends came up too," Webb said. "To be able to throw on Opening Day, where a lot of people come see, and not just the immediate family, and to do it here close to home, is definitely special."
Though Webb allowed two runs, Reds' hitters were impressed.
"He doesn't give you much to hit," Reds left fielder Adam Dunn said. "He's good. The only chance we had to score runs, we scored them."
Second baseman Brandon Phillips felt his teammates were pressing, perhaps because of the pressure involved in Opening Day.
"We weren't playing Reds' baseball today," said Phillips, who went 1-for-4. "Maybe the next game we play, we'll learn from that.
"There were a lot of balls we swung at that normally we wouldn't swing at. Webb was pitching and he had good stuff. I give a lot of credit to him."
The defending NL West champions started the scoring in the first inning when Conor Jackson singled to center to score Orlando Hudson. Third-inning homers to left by Chris Young and Eric Byrnes off losing pitcher Aaron Harang pushed the score as high as Arizona would need it.
Before the game even began though, the usual optimism of Opening Day was tempered to a degree. The Reds honored former GM Bob Howsam, long-time scout Sheldon "Chief" Bender, former pitcher Bob Purkey and long-time Red Joe Nuxhall, all of whom died in the past year, with a moment of silence.
The greatest tribute though went to Nuxhall. The youngest pitcher in MLB history, and storied broadcaster who died in November, was cheered one last time as each member of the Reds that wears a uniform took the field donning a modified Nuxhall jersey.
The jerseys had the No. 41 and Nuxhall's name on the back while keeping the player's or coach's number on the front. Everyone but Harang switched into normal jerseys for the game.
"I think it was a great tribute," Dunn said. "It ought to show how much he meant to not only us but to the Reds organization."
Phillips called the tribute beautiful and that it was the best part of the day.
The Reds also unveiled a Nuxhall jersey hanging above the visitor's bullpen that will remain there for the season.
NOTES: Harang is one year older than Webb though both pitchers were born on May 9. Jeff Salazar's homerun was the third of his career and all his homers have come while pinch hitting. Griffey remains seven home runs short of 600 for his career after going 0-3 with a walk.
JOHN STEGEMAN can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org