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Happ HR on 1st pitch of season; Rizzo, Cubs beat Marlins 8-4

March 29, 2018

MIAMI (AP) — Ian Happ homered on the first pitch of the major league season, and Anthony Rizzo made his emotional homecoming even more memorable with a home run, leading the Chicago Cubs past Derek Jeter’s Miami Marlins 8-4 Thursday.

Rizzo homered into the upper deck in the second inning — an unscripted tribute to the victims of last month’s shooting at his former high school in Parkland, Florida. As he crossed home plate, Rizzo patted his chest and pointed to the sky.

Both teams wore patches to honor those killed, and Rizzo plans to host four families of the victims at Friday’s game.

Happ, playing in his first opening day game, pulled Jose Urena’s first pitch into the seats to give the Cubs the fast start they sought. They’re eager to replicate the quick getaway in 2016 that helped propel them to their first World Series title in 108 years.

Kyle Schwarber also homered for Chicago, which overcame two errors and a rocky start by Jon Lester.

Jeter, who homered in a win in his first opening day with the Yankees in 1996, had less success in his debut as the Marlins’ CEO. But a lively crowd of 32,151 on a mild, sun-splashed afternoon — with the retractable roof open — hinted at the franchise’s potential if Jeter can build a winner.

Doubles by Kris Bryant and Wilson Contreras in the fourth put the Cubs ahead to stay. Tommy La Stella contributed a pinch-hit, two-run double.

The Cubs bullpen, revamped after a dismal 2017 postseason, shut out Miami over the final 5 2-3 innings, allowing only one hit. Newcomer Steve Cishek (1-0) stranded four runners in two scoreless innings.

Lester, making his seventh opening day start, lasted only 3 1-3 innings and allowed four runs, three earned.

In the wake of Jeter’s offseason payroll purge, 12 Marlins made an opening day roster for the first time. They included Brian Anderson, who singled home a run in each of his first two at-bats, and Garrett Cooper, who replaced NL MVP Giancarlo Stanton in right field and singled home a run to make it 4-all in the third.

Another newcomer, Tayron Guerrero, struck out the first four batters he faced before allowing Schwarber’s homer.

Urena (0-1) needed 36 pitches to get through the first inning, when the Cubs scored three times with only one hit. The right-hander walked one and hit three batters — after tying for the major league lead last year by hitting 14.

In his first opening day start, Urena allowed five runs in four innings.

RIFT MENDED

Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez, who feuded with the Marlins’ previous ownership regime and boycotted games, threw out the first pitch along with Miami Mayor Francis Suarez.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Reliever Pedro Strop made the Cubs roster, even though a sore left calf and an illness limited him during this spring. He pitched a scoreless seventh.

UP NEXT

RHP Kyle Hendricks is scheduled to pitch Friday for the Cubs, who open the season with a 10-game trip. Miami rookie LHP Caleb Smith will try for his first career win.

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More AP baseball: https://apnews.com/tag/MLBbaseball

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