CINCINNATI (AP) - Ramon Hernandez hit a two-out, three-run homer in the bottom of the ninth inning Thursday, rallying the Cincinnati Reds to a 7-6 victory over the Milwaukee Brewers in an opening-day flashback to their NL Central title season.
The Brewers became the first team in 42 years to open the season with back-to-back homers when Rickie Weeks and Carlos Gomez connected off Edinson Volquez. Ryan Braun also had a solo shot, helping Milwaukee take a 6-3 lead to the ninth.
That's when the Reds reverted to their winning ways of 2010. Their first six wins last season came in their final at-bat, tying the major league record. Hernandez connected off closer John Axford (0-1).
The Reds trailed 6-3 when Axford - who set a Milwaukee rookie record with 24 saves last season - let it get away. Cincinnati loaded the bases with none out, but Axford fanned Jay Bruce and got Jonny Gomes to hit a sacrifice fly to deep center.
Hernandez hit an opposite-field homer into the Brewers' bullpen, setting off another hopping home-plate celebration like so many last season. The Reds tied for second-most wins in their final at-bat while taking the NL Central title.
The Brewers have designs on overtaking the NL Central champions after changing managers - Ron Roenicke took over for Ken Macha - and adding Zack Greinke and Shaun Marcum to their rotation. One game in, they're one game behind.
The 41-degree first pitch made for the second-coldest opener in Great American Ball Park's nine-year history, prompting the 42,398 fans to bundle in coats and blankets. Volquez warmed up wearing a red hooded sweatshirt.
Then, the Brewers got off to the majors' most sizzling start in decades.
Weeks extended his spring tear with his 22nd career leadoff homer. He led the Brewers with a .442 average and one homer during spring training. Fast starts are no surprise for him - Weeks hit a club-record eight leadoff homers last season.
When Gomez homered into the upper deck two pitches later, the Brewers became the first team in the majors to start a season with a pair of homers since Cincinnati's Pete Rose - who watched from a seat behind home plate on Thursday - and Bobby Tolan connected off Don Drysdale in 1969. Drysdale didn't allow another run in that one, winning 3-2.
Drew Stubbs and National League MVP Joey Votto hit solo homers, but the Reds went to their final at-bat before Hernandez ended it with his three-run shot, his fourth hit of the game.
NOTES: Logan Ondrusek got the victory with one inning in relief. ... The Reds are 65-69-1 on opening day, the Brewers 23-19-1. ... It was the second time the Brewers and Reds opened the season. The other was 2000, when Ken Griffey Jr. returned to his hometown team. The game was rained out as a 3-3 tie. ... The Reds played a tribute to former manager Sparky Anderson on the videoboard before the game. Anderson died in November. The Reds are wearing a "Sparky" patch on their right sleeves. His No. 10 was marked on the back of the mound. ... Rose spent time thumbing through the records section of a Reds media guide while sitting in his seat. He attends several games a season in his hometown. ... The Reds won for the first time in four season openers under manager Dusty Baker.
(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)