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Adrian Gonzalez may have out-homered Milwaukee’s Prince Fielder at the Home Run Derby, but Fielder’s home run mattered most Tuesday night at the 82nd All-Star Game at Chase Stadium in Phoenix. Fielder’s three-run home run off Texas’ C.J. Wilson in the fourth inning drove in the winning runs, and National League pitchers limited American League hitters to just six hits and a walk in a 5-1 NL victory over the AL. With the victory, the NL claimed home-field advantage for the World Series.
The AL’s first three pitchers – Los Angeles’ Jered Weaver (Angels), New York’s David Robertson (Yankees) and Seattle’s Michael Pineda – limited the NL to a single and a walk, and Gonzalez cleaned out an 0-1 cutter from Philadelphia’s Cliff Lee to right-center in the top of the fourth for the first All-Star Game home run since 2008, putting the AL up 1-0.
Wilson struggled right out of the gate to start the bottom of the fourth, however, giving up back-to-back singles to New York’s Carlos Beltran (Mets) and Los Angeles’ Matt Kemp (Dodgers). Wilson got Fielder to two strikes, but Fielder then took a 2-2 offering all the way to the center field wall. The ball landed on the yellow line across the top and bounced over to give the NL a 3-1 lead.
The NL went up 4-1 in the bottom of the fifth when Los Angeles’ Andre Ethier singled to drive in Milwaukee’s Rickie Weeks, then up 5-1 in the seventh on a ground-rule double by San Francisco’s Pablo Sandoval that scored Houston’s Hunter Pence.
The AL had one last chance to get back in the game in the top of the ninth, putting men on second and third with one out against Pittsburgh’s Joel Hanrahan. But San Francisco’s Brian Wilson – whose lineup announcement and post-game interview may have been the most entertaining parts of the night – retired both batters he faced to pick up the save. Wilson took the loss.
The win went to Washington’s Tyler Clippard, who relieved Lee with two men on and two outs in the fourth. Clippard gave up a single to left to Texas’ Adrian Beltre, but Toronto’s Jose Bautista unwisely tried to score from second on the shallow hit to left field, and Pence threw him out easily at home.
For his three-run home run, Fielder was named MVP of the game.
Starters Weaver (one scoreless inning, one walk, one strikeout) and Philadelphia’s Roy Halladay (two perfect innings, one strikeout) did not factor in the decision.
The AL may have more powerful hitters, but the NL proved it has far superior pitching. NL combined for six 1-2-3 innings Tuesday night, with only four pitchers allowing even a base runner.
The AL had only two real scoring chances. Bautista ran the AL out of one in the fourth, and (Brian) Wilson shut down the other in the ninth. Beyond those two innings, the AL put just one man on base: Kevin Youkilis, on a seventh-inning single off Atlanta’s Jair Jurrjens.
AL pitchers, meanwhile, threw just two 1-2-3 innings: Pineda in the third, and Texas’ Alexi Ogando in the eighth.
Gonzalez’s home run was the offensive highlight of the night for the AL, although he grounded it out in his first at-bat. Defensively, Gonzalez cleanly fielded a leadoff grounder from Weeks and took it to the bag himself for the first NL out of the game.
Josh Beckett warmed up to pitch the second inning, but decided not to pitch when he felt soreness in his recently hyperextended left knee. Robertson, his replacement, pitched a scoreless second inning, giving up a single and striking out one.
Youkilis’ single in his only at-bat broke up a string of eight AL hitters retired in a row.
Tags: 2011 MLB All-Star Game, Adrian Beltre, Adrian Gonzalez, Alexi Ogando, Andre Ethier, Brian Wilson, C.J. Wilson, Carlos Beltran, Cliff Lee, David Ortiz, David Robertson, Hunter Pence, Jacoby Ellsbury, Jair Jurrjens, Jered Weaver, Jose Bautista, Josh Beckett, Kevin Youkilis, Matt Kemp, Michael Pineda, Pablo Sandoval, Prince Fielder, Rickie Weeks, Roy Halladay, Tyler Clippard