Albert Almora Jr. robbed Matt Adams of a home run and Javier Baez made a terrific sliding stop on Kolten Wong's game-ending grounder, sending Jake Arrieta and the Chicago Cubs to a 2-1 victory against the St. Louis Cardinals on Tuesday night.
It looked as if the Cardinals had tied the game in the seventh, but Almora tracked Adams' deep fly ball to the wall and hauled it in with a leaping grab at the top of the fence in center. A pumped-up Almora then celebrated with left fielder Kyle Schwarber as Adams tipped his batting helmet in appreciation of the catch.
St. Louis had a runner on first in the ninth when Baez went into short right field to take a hit away from Wong. The Cardinals challenged the call on the bang-bang play, but it was allowed to stand.
Chicago jumped in front with two in the fourth. Addison Russell doubled and scored on Jason Heyward's single to center. Contreras then scampered home on Baez's safety squeeze.
Arrieta pitched six innings of one-run ball, helping the World Series champions bounce back from a wild 4-3 loss to St. Louis on Sunday night. Willson Contreras hit a tying three-run homer in the ninth inning of the opener, but the Cardinals won it in the bottom half on Randal Grichuk's game-ending single.
Adam Wainwright allowed two runs and three hits in five innings for St. Louis. The right-hander is hoping to bounce back this season after recording a 4.62 ERA last year.
With a 90 percent chance of rain in the forecast, the teams are scheduled to close out the series on Wednesday afternoon. St. Louis right-hander Lance Lynn is set to make his debut after missing all of last season following elbow surgery, while Chicago right-hander John Lackey takes the mound after going 11-8 with a 3.35 ERA last season.
>>Quintana Knocked Around Early, Tigers Top Sox in Season Opener
Justin Verlander struck out 10 to match the most by a Detroit pitcher on opening day since Mickey Lolich in 1970, and the Tigers backed him with three home runs in a 6-3 victory over the Chicago White Sox on Tuesday.
JaCoby Jones hit his first career homer, Nick Castellanos and Ian Kinsler also went deep against Jose Quintana (0-1), and the Tigers sent Rick Renteria to a loss in his debut as White Sox manager.
A day after the teams were rained out, Jones' three-run homer and Castellanos' two-run drive in a five-run second lifted Detroit into a 5-1 lead. Kinsler added a solo shot in the fourth.
Verlander (1-0), the AL Cy Young Award runner-up last season, gave up two runs and six hits while walking two in 6 1/3 innings.
Francisco Rodriguez relieved with two on in the ninth and retired three straight batters for the save. He gave up an RBI groundout to Jacob May before catcher James McCann leaned over the railing in front of the Tigers dugout to snag Tyler Saladino's foul for the final out.
James Shields looks to begin his first full season with the White Sox on a stronger note Wednesday after going a combined 6-19 with a 5.85 ERA for the San Diego Padres and Chicago last year.
Jordan Zimmermann (9-7, 4.87 last season) looks to rebound from an injury-riddled year, beginning with Wednesday's start.
>>Cardinals' Piscotty Has Rough Trip Around Bases
St. Louis outfielder Stephen Piscotty has left the Cardinals' game against the Cubs after he was hit in the head by a ball while sliding into home.
Piscotty departed in the fifth inning with a head contusion, and the team says he will be evaluated again on Wednesday.
Piscotty reached when he was hit by a pitch from Jake Arrieta. He was hit again by catcher Willson Contreras' throw when he stole second.
Piscotty then scored from second on Kolten Wong's infield hit to the right side of the mound. Cubs second baseman Javier Baez threw home, but the ball went off Piscotty's head.
Piscotty, who agreed to a $33.5 million, six-year contract a day earlier, was down on the field for several minutes after being hit Tuesday night. He eventually walked off the field.