July 10, 2012

National League scores a Giant blowout in All-Star Game

The Texas Rangers know the importance of home-field advantage in the World Series. So do the two teams that emerged victorious against them the past two seasons.

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- The Texas Rangers know the importance of home-field advantage in the World Series. So do the two teams that emerged victorious against them the past two seasons.

Pablo Sandoval and Melky Cabrera of the San Francisco Giants, along with Rafael Furcal and Matt Holliday of the St. Louis Cardinals, provided the timely hits for the National League, which pulled away for an 8-0 victory over the American League in the 83rd All-Star Game on Tuesday night.

The victory gives the NL home-field advantage in the World Series for the third consecutive year.

"It's very disappointing," AL manager Ron Washington said. "We're competitors and we want to win. But I think you've got to tip your hat to the National League again."

Things unraveled quickly for the AL, as reigning Cy Young and MVP winner Justin Verlander came out wanting to entertain the fans with 100 mph heat.

He did that, lighting up the Kauffman Stadium radar gun with 100 mph fastballs. Unfortunately, the sacrifice of command for velocity didn't work out too well.

With one out in the first, Verlander gave up a single to Cabrera and Ryan Braun followed with an RBI double. The Detroit Tigers' ace struck out Joey Votto, but then issued consecutive walks to Carlos Beltran and Buster Posey to load the bases. Sandoval made Verlander pay, drilling a 1-1 curveball down the right-field line for a bases-clearing triple. Sandoval scored on an infield single by Dan Uggla as the NL grabbed a 5-0 lead.

"Obviously you don't want to go out like that," said Verlander, who threw 35 pitches. "I know home field is big. It's not like I'm trying to give up runs. I went out there and gave everything I had. It's just different from the way I normally pitch, which I feel really messed me up a little bit."

Verlander had been scheduled to go two innings, but Rangers closer Joe Nathan worked a perfect second and Rays starter David Price pitched a scoreless third.

But the NL rallied for three more runs in the fourth off Rangers starter Matt Harrison. He gave up four consecutive two-out hits, including a two-run home run by Cabrera -- chosen the game's MVP.

"Had a rough inning there, got two quick outs and they got to me," Harrison said. "But I wouldn't trade this experience for anything."

San Francisco right-hander Matt Cain started the game with two innings, setting the pace for the NL staff. They gave up six hits and held the AL scoreless for the first time since 1996.

The AL's best scoring chance came in the fifth inning. David Ortiz and Mike Napoli had one-out singles, and Asdrubal Cabrera drew a two-out walk to load the bases. But Rangers second baseman Ian Kinsler flew out to left.

Napoli's single was the lone hit by a Rangers batter. Adrian Beltre, Josh Hamilton and Kinsler each went 0 for 2. Elvis Andrus went 0 for 1, and saw action at third base for the first time in his big-league career.

Pitcher Yu Darvish was the only Rangers All-Star who didn't appear in the game.

"It was my first All-Star Game," Darvish said in a statement. "I was able to meet and talk with some of the players, so I enjoyed it."

Enjoying the experience and the festivities was the party line in the clubhouse after the game, as none of the Rangers seemed overly concerned about starting on the road should they make a third consecutive World Series.

"This game is important, we would have liked to win," Nathan said. "But it doesn't mean the National League is going to win the World Series just because they won this game. It just means they get to play at home one more time than we do."

Drew Davison, 817-390-7760

Twitter: @drewdavison

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