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All-Star game is uniquely American, again

American League beats National League, 4-3, improving to 12-0-1 since 1996 and winning home-field edge in World Series for seventh straight year.

July 15, 2009|Dave van Dyck

ST. LOUIS — Some things never change.

Presidents appearing at the national pastime's All-Star game, muggy-warm baseball nights in St. Louis and, of course, the American League winning.

The AL's unbeaten string reached 13 games Tuesday night -- giving the league home-field advantage again in the World Series, for the seventh straight year -- with a 4-3 victory over the National League in front of a crowd of 46,760 at Busch Stadium.

So it's possible the White Sox could host the Cubs in a dream Chicago showdown and President Obama might be there to throw out the ceremonial first pitch as he did Tuesday night.

Obama, wearing a black White Sox jacket, lobbed his toss to the Cardinals' Albert Pujols after warming up in the indoor batting cages.

"One thing I told him, if the ball misses," Pujols said, "it's because of the jacket, White Sox."

While Obama was the pregame show, the heroes later were Detroit's Curtis Granderson and Baltimore's Adam Jones, two All-Star rookies who produced an eighth-inning run that broke a 3-3 tie and made a winner of Boston reliever Jonathan Papelbon.

Granderson tripled off San Diego's Heath Bell with one out and scored on Jones' sacrifice fly to right field before New York Yankees closer Mariano Rivera nailed down the victory in the ninth inning.

"Congrats to [Granderson] on going for three bases," said winning Manager Joe Maddon of Tampa Bay. "[That] puts an entirely different attitude on the other side of what they can do.

"That was the big play, that he had the want-to to go for three."

Granderson was thrilled.

"It was amazing, to get a chance to experience it," said Granderson, whose parents, Mary and Curtis Sr., were in attendance. "For it being my first one, I hope it's like this any other time I come. Not necessarily the results, just the experience, to meet all these guys, President Obama. I wouldn't trade this for anything."

The National League had one last chance in the eighth inning, putting runners on second and third with two outs. But St. Louis native Ryan Howard of the Phillies, batting in Pujols' lineup spot, struck out swinging on a nasty slider from Minnesota closer Joe Nathan.

The NL actually had a 3-2 lead after the second inning but the AL tied it in the fifth against the Dodgers' Chad Billingsley when Minnesota's Joe Mauer doubled home the Yankees' Derek Jeter.

By then, starting pitchers Roy Halladay of the AL and Tim Lincecum of the NL were long gone.

Tampa Bay's Carl Crawford was named the game's MVP, mostly for a catch of a fly ball Colorado's Brad Hawpe hit to lead off the seventh inning. Playing left field, Crawford leaped, got his glove above the top of the fence and came down with the ball in left-center.

"Yeah, it was over the wall," Crawford said. "It would have been a home run. That has to be my top play, I don't think I've ever robbed anyone of a home run before. I picked a good time do it."

The NL endured an ugly first inning and fell behind, 2-0. The first two AL hitters reached base, Ichiro Suzuki on a single and Jeter getting hit by a pitch from Lincecum, the San Francisco Giants' Cy Young Award winner.

And then came the ultimate embarrassment for Cardinals fans. Pujols committed an error that allowed the first run to score. The second run scored on a fielder's choice grounder by Texas' Josh Hamilton.

It wasn't long before the NL had the lead, however, as the AL also was charged with an error in a three-run second inning off Toronto's Halladay.

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dvandyck@tribune.com

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(BEGIN TEXT OF INFOBOX)

Angels in the game

CHONE FIGGINS, ANGELS, 3B

A long day's journey onto the bench.

Didn't find out he was on the team until Tuesday morning, flew across the country, barely made

it to the game, and didn't play.

BRIAN FUENTES, ANGELS, P

Didn't pitch. AL Manager Joe Maddon went with Mariano Rivera as his closer, and couldn't find a spot for the major league leader in saves.

Dodgers in the game

CHAD BILLINGSLEY, DODGERS, P

Gave up one run and two hits in the fifth inning and it would have been worse if Albert Pujols hadn't made two fine defensive plays behind him.

ORLANDO HUDSON, DODGERS, 2B

Came in as pinch-hitter in the sixth and flied to right. Singled and stole second in the eighth.

JONATHAN BROXTON, DODGERS, P

Didn't pitch because of a toe injury.

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Outside batter's box

Non-pitching MVPs in the All-Star game who had no RBIs:

CARL CRAWFORD

TAMPA BAY, 2009

1 for 3, 0 runs, game-saving catch on potential go-ahead home run.

WILLIE MAYS

SAN FRANCISCO, 1968

1 for 4, scored only run in 1-0 win.

BROOKS ROBINSON BALTIMORE, 1966

3 for 4, 1 triple, 1 run in loss.

X-MAURY WILLS

DODGERS, 1962

1 for 1, 2 runs, 1 stolen base.

x-one of two games. Source: Associated Press

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