CINCINNATI — Jeremy Hellickson couldn’t believe it when he rounded second base and saw the coach waving him on.
Hellickson drove in the decisive run in the sixth inning with his first career triple — one that left him out of breath for a long time — and the Philadelphia Phillies held on for a 4-3 victory over the Cincinnati Reds on Monday.
“I’m never doing that again,” said Hellickson (1-0), who was still feeling it when he came out of the game after facing one batter in the bottom of the sixth. “I’m stopping at second no matter what.”
Cesar Hernandez opened the Phillies’ season with a homer, connecting on Scott Feldman’s eighth pitch. Freddy Galvis — who had a career-high 20 homers last season — added a solo shot in the second.
It was a bad flashback for the Reds, who gave up the most homers in the majors last season.
Hellickson allowed a run and six hits, his outing cut short after his run around the bases. Right fielder Scott Schebler failed to make a diving catch of his two-out liner, letting the ball get by him as Hellickson chugged across an infield turned muddy by several innings of rain.
Hellickson was the first pitcher to triple in an opener since the Giants’ Jack Sanford in 1963, according to ESPN.
“I was catching my breath for about 30 minutes when I came back in here,” he said.
The Phillies also opened last season in Cincinnati behind Hellickson, who made a solid start before the bullpen allowed five runs in the eighth for Cincinnati’s 6-2 win. The bullpen barely held on this time.
Jeanmar Gomez gave up Scooter Gennett’s two-out, two-run homer in the ninth before retiring Billy Hamilton on a routine fly to get the save. Gomez struggled at the end of last season as well, jeopardizing his job.
“I’m concerned about it,” manager Pete Mackanin said. “For me, he’s earned the right to be the closer for now, but he’s got to get the ball down.”
Feldman (0-1) lasted 4 2/3 innings in his third opening day start and his first for Cincinnati. The right-hander signed with the Reds three months ago to fill a spot in the middle of the rotation, but wound up starting the opener after Anthony DeSclafani and Homer Bailey had elbow problems.
“Any time you don’t make it through five innings, it’s tough to pull any positives out of it,” Feldman said.
A SLOG: Steady and occasionally heavy rain moved in for the middle innings, but the teams played through it without a delay.
LEADING OFF: It was Hernandez’s second career leadoff homer. He also connected against the St. Louis Cardinals’ Luke Weaver on Aug. 20.
HONORING FEENEY: The Reds honored Katy Feeney by reserving a spot for her in the press box and placing a single red rose in a vase at her place. The long-time baseball executive died on Saturday.
BETTER START: The Phillies lost their first four games last season and five of their first seven.
LOTS OF HOMERS: Reds starters allowed 155 homers last season, most in the majors. The bullpen gave up a major league-record 103 homers as well.
Phillies: RH Zack Eflin is the only Phillies player on the disabled list to start the season. He’s recovering from surgery on both knees last year.
Reds: RH Bronson Arroyo threw six 15-pitch innings during a simulated game on Sunday and is still on target to join the team and start next weekend in St. Louis, barring any setbacks.
Phillies: After a day off Tuesday, the teams resume their series. RH Jerad Eickhoff makes his first appearance against the Reds. He went 14-17 last season.
Reds: LHP Brandon Finnegan went 0-1 with a 4.50 ERA in two starts against the Phillies last season. He had 15 quality starts last season, second to Dan Straily for the staff lead.