AL Beats NL 4-1 in All Star Game

UPDATE May 3, 2008: I did not write anything for this game, as I had surgery this day, and was really loopy and laid out on the sofa. I’m going to stick in an old wire story for this game. (I put the old format 2001 archives into Movable Type’s Blog software in May of 2008, hence this update text).
SEATTLE (TICKER) — Cal Ripken is no stranger to dramatic moments on a national stage. Derek Jeter is getting pretty used to them, too.
Participating in his 19th and final All-Star Game, Ripken homered in his first at-bat and Jeter added a solo shot as the American League posted its fifth straight win over the punchless National League, a 4-1 triumph at Safeco Field.
Honored Monday and following the sixth inning, Ripken provided the most memorable moment of the 72nd mid-summer classic by leading off the third inning against Los Angeles righthander Chan Ho Park with a line drive over the left-field wall.
Ripken, who will turn 41 on August 24, became the oldest player to homer in an All-Star Game. Stan Musial was 39 when he hit one in 1960.
The blast was reminiscent of his home run on September 6, 1995 — the day he etched his name into baseball immortality by breaking Lou Gehrig’s consecutive games played streak.
The 47,364 fans at Safeco Field demanded a curtain call and Ripken obliged. For his efforts, Ripken was honored with the Most Valuable Player award for the second time in his career, having also won in 1991. He is the only American League player to win the award twice.
“I must have had a shot of adrenaline or long case of the goose bumps, I’m not sure what coming to the plate,” Ripken said. “I went up there and said `God, it’s hard to see.’
“The ovation, people standing up, and I came out and tried to acknowledge them quickly because I didn’t want the game to be delayed for that. I got back in and just saw the first pitch, swung at it, and put a nice swing on it. I felt like I was flying around the bases.”
Ripken’s fellow All-Stars also felt the enormity of the moment.
“It was just one of those things for the fans and for Cal,” Mariners second baseman Bret Boone said. “It was pretty fitting, Cal hits a home run. That’s a pretty special moment.”
“It’s like a dream come true,” Chicago Cubs right fielder Sammy Sosa said. “Everybody was clapping and after that he comes up with the home run. It doesn’t get much better than that as a human being. … He is the man.”
Jeter, the shortstop of the New York Yankees, made sure Ripken’s moment would stand up. After the NL crept within 2-1 with a run in the top of the sixth, Jeter opened the bottom of the inning with a long home run over the center-field wall off Chicago Cubs righthander Jon Lieber. It was his only at-bat in the contest.
“I told him I think it took Hank Aaron 10 or 12 years to hit his first home run in an All-Star Game,” AL manager Joe Torre said. “He said he was going to swing 3-0, he didn’t care where it was.”
Last year’s All-Star and World Series MVP, Jeter went 3-for-3 in the 2000 game and hit .409 in the Fall Classic. Ripken often is credited with paving the way for bigger, more offensive-minded shortstops such as Jeter and Alex Rodriguez, the AL’s elected starter at the position.
“It’s fun, anytime you can play in an All-Star Game it is pretty exciting,” Jeter said. “And to do something good makes it even more special.”
Chicago’s Magglio Ordonez followed Jeter’s blast with a home run to right-center field. It marked just the fifth time in All-Star history that there have been back-to-back home runs.
Winless since 1996, the NL managed just three hits, none over the final 3 2/3 innings. The record for fewest hits is two by the NL in 1990.
“We didn’t put any hits together and guys were not seeing the ball very well in the shadows and were complaining about it a bit,” NL manager Bobby Valentine said. “When you have just one at-bat to adjust, it’s a tough thing for the hitters and their pitchers made really good pitches.”
The game featured a six-minute ceremony after the fifth inning in which Commissioner Bud Selig paid tribute to both Ripken and fellow legend Tony Gwynn of the San Diego Padres. The retiring superstars received the Commissioner’s Historic Achievement Award in the unprecedented stoppage.
“What a wonderful experience,” said Gwynn, who was an honorary NL player and in uniform. “It turned out great. … You want to say thank you because it’s really the outpouring that has been unbelievable. I’m sure as we go along it is going to get tougher.”
“I always thought the All-Star Game was a special time to celebrate baseball,” Ripken added. “To have things go so great in the game, hit a home run, it’s been special. It’s a great feeling.”
The delay nearly cost the AL its lead as Toronto setup man Paul Quantrill, making his first All-Star appearance, ran into immediate trouble following the break.
San Francisco’s Jeff Kent doubled into the right-field corner and one out later, Houston’s Lance Berkman singled off the glove of Jeter to put runners on the corners.
Torre, the New York Yankees’ manager, called on his own Mike Stanton, who surrendered a sacrifice fly to San Diego’s Ryan Klesko to halve the deficit.
After a broken bat by pinch hitter Vladimir Guerrero hit and knocked over NL honorary third base coach Tommy Lasorda in a lighthearted moment, Stanton got the Montreal Expos slugger on a flyout to left field.
Seattle ace Freddy Garcia tossed a perfect third inning to get the win and Mariners closer Kazuhiro Sasaki notched the save. It was fitting as nearly all the All-Star festivities served as a celebration of baseball in Seattle. The Mariners had four starters and eight players in uniform, much to the delight of the 47,364 fans.
“I’m just relieved that everything went OK and that it came out OK,” said Sasaki through an interpreter. “The way the game went, we were able to come out with a win and that was a great experience.”
“I was really nervous,” Garcia said. “My first All-Star game and I win it with only seven pitches. It was pretty emotional.”
AL starter Roger Clemens was dominant over two innings. Making his second career All-Star start, Clemens retired all six batters he faced, including New York Mets catcher Mike Piazza.
Clemens and Piazza had not faced each other since Game Two of the 2000 World Series, a game that saw Clemens throw a broken bat in the direction of the All-Star backstop.
NL starter Randy Johnson of the Arizona Diamondbacks, a late replacement for teammate Curt Schilling, was nearly as dominant. The former Mariner surrendered a leadoff single to Seattle rookie sensation Ichiro Suzuki in the first but little else.
The three-time Cy Young Award winner struck out Alex Rodriguez of Texas and Manny Ramirez of Boston in the first and Seattle’s Edgar Martinez to cap a perfect second.
It was the fourth career All-Star start for Johnson, who has allowed just a run and four hits with 11 strikeouts in 11 innings.
Andy Pettitte of the Yankees allowed a leadoff single in the fourth but retired sluggers Todd Helton, Barry Bonds and Sosa in order to escape further trouble. Atlanta’s John Burkett tossed a perfect bottom of the fourth to keep the game at 1-0.
Minnesota’s Joe Mays took over in the fifth for the AL, which took advantage of two-base error by Kent to tack on a run in the bottom of the frame.
With Colorado’s Mike Hampton pitching, Seattle first baseman John Olerud grounded a ball up the middle that Kent threw away. Hampton retired the next two batters on grounders to shortstop but Ivan Rodriguez of Texas came through with a single up the middle that scored pinch runner Jason Giambi for a 2-0 lead.
After Stanton worked through the jam in the sixth, Seattle’s Jeff Nelson, a late addition to the AL squad, held the NL in check in the seventh. Anaheim Angels closer Troy Percival fired a hitless eighth before giving way to Sasaki.