Baseball

AL maintains mastery over NL in all-star game

The American League extended its unbeaten streak to 13 games with a 4-3 victory over the National League in the 80th all-star game at St. Louis on Tuesday night.

The National League had not won the all-star game since 1996 and, though it boasted a 4-0 record when a sitting president had thrown out the ceremonial first pitch, not even Barack Obama's left-handed lob could change the senior circuit's luck. 

Justin Upton misplayed Curtis Granderson's trailing fly ball into a triple and the eventual winning run in the eighth inning as the American League prevailed 4-3 in the 80th all-star game Tuesday night at Busch Stadium in St. Louis.

Tied at 3-3, Upton, who plays left field for the Arizona Diamondbacks, turned the wrong way on the fly ball and the Detroit Tigers speedster parlayed it into a triple.

Adam Jones of the Baltimore Orioles later delivered Granderson from third base with a pinch-hit, sacrifice fly to right field as the AL improved to 12-0-1 in the last 13 showdowns.

"I just got up there trying to put wood on the ball — didn't care what the pitch was," Jones said. "If it was close, I was going to put wood on it."

"The whole game was centred around pitching," NL manager Charlie Manuel noted.

The NL was so anxious to avoid unlucky 13 that it turned to Obama, arguably the most powerful pitcher on the planet — but an unabashed Chicago White Sox fan.

Obama heard the cheers from the capacity crowd of 46,460 turn to jeers when he emerged from the dugout wearing a warmup jacket emblazoned with the colours of his beloved AL team.

"Everybody knows I'm a White Sox fan and my wife thinks I look cute in this jacket," Obama said. "Between those two things, why not?"

Wisely, the lanky southpaw wisely heeded the advice of Hall of Famer Willie Mays as he lobbed the first pitch to St. Louis Cardinals superstar Albert Pujols.

"Follow through," Mays said, which Obama did. "I'm just proud of him, you know.

"He may be proud of something else. But I'm proud of him [and] what he stands for."

Obama was the seventh sitting President to attend the all-star game — and the fifth to throw out the first pitch, following Franklin Roosevelt, John Kennedy, Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford.

"We're a social institution whether we want to admit it or not and, for years, I don't think baseball wanted to admit that," commissioner Bud Selig said. "We do have enormous social responsibility and clearly that intrigued the White House and the president."

At the 1991 all-star game in Toronto, President George H. W. Bush joined Prime Minister Brian Mulroney for some soft toss near the Blue Jays dugout, but Hall of Famer Ferguson Jenkins of Chatham, Ont., threw out the first pitch from the mound.

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Stan the Man in St. Louis

Highlighting the pre-game ceremony was the introduction of Stan Musial, a 24-time all-star, and five other Hall of Famers to play for the Cardinals: Lou Brock, Bob Gibson, Ozzie Smith, Red Schoendienst and Bruce Sutter.

Crawford voted MVP

Boston Red Sox reliever Jonathan Papelbon (1-0) earned the win, New York Yankees closer Mariano Rivera posted his fourth save — an all-star record — and Carl Crawford of the Tampa Bay Rays was named the game's most valuable player.

Crawford did in left field what Upton failed to do, make a spectacular catch at the fence to deny Brad Hawpe of the Colorado Rockies a potential home run.

"I was over the wall," Crawford said. "It would have been a home run."

"It was a game-changing play," Papelbon noted. "He won MVP because of that play and deservedly so."

Roy Halladay of the Toronto Blue Jays, the subject of recent trade rumours, started for the AL and coughed up three runs on four hits in two innings pitched.

Tim Lincecum of the San Francisco Giants fared slightly better for the NL as he surrendered two runs — one unearned — and two hits with one strikeout in two innings.

Lincecum was nicked for two runs in the top of the first inning — one on a fielding error from Pujols and the other on a fielder's choice.

But the NL rallied off Halladay with two outs in the bottom of the second inning, tying it 2-2 on consecutive singles from David Wright of the New York Mets, Shane Victorino of the Philadelphia Phillies and Yadier Molina of the Cardinals.

Milwaukee Brewers slugger Prince Fielder, the winner of Monday's home run derby, ripped a run-scoring, ground-rule double down the left-field line to make it 3-2.  

The AL tied it at 3-3 in the fifth inning when Yankees captain Derek Jeter circled the bases to score on an RBI double from Joe Mauer of the Minnesota Twins.

All-Star Records

 Statistic  Player  Record  Games
 Batting Average  Charlie Gehringer, Ted Kluszewski  .500  6, 4
 At-Bats  Willie Mays  75  24
 Hits  Willie Mays  23  24
 Doubles  Dave Winfield  7  12
 Triples  Willie Mays, Brooks Robinson  3  24, 18
 Extra Base Hits  Willie Mays, Stan Musial  8  24, 24
 Home Runs  Stan Musial  6  24
 Pinch Hits  Stan Musial  3  24
 Runs scored  Willie Mays  20  24
 Runs batted in  Ted Williams  12  18
 Bases on balls  Ted Williams  11  18
 Total bases  Willie Mays, Stan Musial  40  24, 24

With files from The Canadian Press