Braves beat Padres 5-2 on opening night at new stadium
ATLANTA (AP) — On a night of firsts, Ender Inciarte saved the best for last.
Matching his power total for all of last season, Inciarte hit the first homer in baseball’s newest stadium to carry the Atlanta Braves to a 5-2 victory over the San Diego Padres on Friday.
The center fielder also recorded the first out, had the first hit and scored the first run at SunTrust Park , ensuring he’ll be the answer to a lot of trivia questions.
“It was a special night for me and for a lot of people,” said Inciarte, who was coming off a two-homer game at Miami. “We were really pumped in the dugout. If the fans give us that every day, we’ll do a lot of good things in this ballpark.”
Before a sellout crowd of 41,149 that included former President Jimmy Carter, Commissioner Rob Manfred and one-time home run king Hank Aaron, the Braves won their second straight game after a 1-6 start.
Nick Markakis, who grew up in nearby Woodstock, put the Braves ahead in the first with a two-run double off Jhoulys Chacin (1-2). Inciarte provided some breathing room in the sixth with a two-run shot into the right-field seats after Craig Stammen relieved Chacin.
In roughly 48 hours, Inciarte matched his output for 2016 with three homers. He was quick to point that out to injured slugger Matt Kemp, who had two homers before he went on the 10-day disabled list.
“I told Matt he’s got to get ready quick,” Inciarte quipped. “I’m up on him right now.”
Julio Teheran (1-0) was a bit wild but lasted six innings. He gave up both San Diego runs, working around four walks and two hit batters. Jim Johnson came on in the ninth for his second save.
“Obviously I didn’t have my best stuff,” Teheran said. “But I battled the whole game.”
There was plenty of pomp for the unveiling of the new suburban stadium, which replaced the Braves’ downtown home of the last two decades, Turner Field.
Ten retired numbers were unveiled on a facade down the left-field line, and seven of the greats — Aaron, John Smoltz, Tom Glavine, Phil Niekro, Bobby Cox, Chipper Jones and Dale Murphy — were on hand for the ceremony.
Then it was time for the 83-year-old Aaron to throw out the ceremonial first pitch , reprising the role he filled for the first and last game at Turner Field. Needing a cane for his walk to the field, Aaron steadied himself with one hand before flipping the ball underhanded to Cox.
The crowd roared.
“It’s really, really nice,” San Diego’s Wil Myers said of SunTrust Park. “One of my favorites I’ve played in so far. I thought they did a nice job with it. I think everything kind of came together the way they like.”
The Padres took advantage of Teheran’s wildness in the second. Ryan Schimpf walked and Erick Aybar was hit by a pitch, setting up Chacin’s run-scoring dribbler and Manuel Margot’s RBI single.
Teheran paid back Chacin in the fourth, driving in the run that put the Braves ahead to stay with an infield single of his own, a play the Padres could have made. Myers failed to make the scoop at first on a one-hop throw.
“It’s not the easiest pick in the world for Wil,” manager Andy Green said, “but he usually comes up with that.”
After hosting an exhibition and a college game, this was the first real test for SunTrust Park. The stands were full before the first pitch, indicating no major traffic issues at a stadium built along one of the busiest interchanges in a city notorious for its bumper-to-bumper jams.
The Padres reinstated catcher Hector Sanchez from the seven-day concussion disabled list and recalled right-hander Kevin Quackenbush from Triple-A El Paso. Quackenbush was used right away, working a scoreless eighth.
The Braves also made a move before game, calling up right-hander Luke Jackson from Triple-A Gwinnett and sending down right-hander Jason Hursh.
Padres: RHP Trevor Cahill (back) is on track to return from the 10-day disabled list Sunday. He gave up two earned runs in 5 2/3 innings in his first start, a loss to Dodgers.
Braves: Kemp (hamstring) ran before the game and isn’t expected to need a rehab stint in the minors before he’s eligible to return on Tuesday. ... Reliever Mauricio Cabrera (elbow strain) threw a bullpen session before the game. Manager Brian Snitker said the hard-throwing right-hander is “feeling great and ready to go,” but no word when he’ll come off the DL.
Padres: LHP Clayton Richard (1-1) makes his third start of the season.
Braves: RHP R.A. Dickey (0-1) will have the distinction of pitching in three different Braves stadiums. He was part of Team USA at Atlanta Fulton-County Stadium during the 1996 Olympics and an opposing pitcher when the team played at Turner Field. Now, he’ll get the nod in the second game at SunTrust Park.
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