Cards' Molina, Franklin come through in home park

Jul 15, 2009 - 7:28 AM By MIKE FITZPATRICK AP Baseball Writer

ST. LOUIS(AP) -- Albert Pujols got all the attention. His teammates on the St. Louis Cardinals were the ones who came through at the All-Star game.

While the two-time NL MVP went hitless in his home ballpark and made a costly error, Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina hit an RBI single and closer Ryan Franklin pitched a perfect third inning Tuesday night.

It wasn't enough, though, as the National League lost 4-3 to the AL in St. Louis' first All-Star game since 1966.

"I was trying my best, man, to keep my emotions calm and trying to look calm," Franklin said. "It was a lot of fun. You know, I knew pitching wouldn't be any different, but just being out there with the caliber of players that were out there, All-Star guys, it was pretty special."

Pujols, eliminated in the second round of the Home Run Derby on Monday night, finished 0 for 3 with a first-inning error that led to two runs.

Later, he made two diving stops at first base to save at least one run.

"That was the best thing I did this week," the slugger said.

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LEFT OUT: Tim Wakefield never got a chance to pitch in his first All-Star game. He didn't seem to mind.

The 42-year-old Boston Red Sox knuckleballer was left in the bullpen all night as the American League beat the NL 4-3, winning its seventh straight Midsummer Classic and improving to 12-0-1 since 1996.

Wakefield said AL manager Joe Maddon told him he'd probably be held in reserve in case the game went to extra innings.

"I'm just happy to be here," Wakefield said before the first pitch. "If I get in the game, great. If not, no big deal."

One issue for Maddon was picking a catcher who could handle Wakefield's floating knuckler. The manager acknowledged before the game that if Wakefield was used, backup Victor Martinez would probably be behind the plate at that point.

Martinez said he had never caught a knuckleballer - and figured he'd have to use a different mitt if the situation arose.

"I don't know. I'll try anything," Martinez said before the game. "This game is all about fun and I really look forward to the experience. I mean, why not?"

Asked if he planned to give Martinez any advice, Wakefield said: "Keep it in front of you."

At 42 years, 346 days, Wakefield was the oldest first-time All-Star since Satchel Paige was 46 in 1952.

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MR. JONES: As if he needed any more reminders, a quick glance at his cell phone told Adam Jones that he'd done well at the All-Star game.

"I've got 40 text messages," the Baltimore outfielder said.

After Curtis Granderson hit a one-out triple in the eighth inning, Padres reliever Heath Bell intentionally walked Victor Martinez. Jones delivered a tiebreaking sacrifice fly that sent the American League to a 4-3 victory.

"I'm still speechless about the entire process," Jones said.

Drafted by Seattle as an infielder and pitcher, Jones made his mark in the minors as an outfielder. He was the main player Baltimore wanted when it traded pitcher Erik Bedard to the Mariners before the 2008 season.

Full of raw talent, the 23-year-old Jones has been honing his all-around skills. He's hitting .303 with 12 home runs and 47 RBIs.

The Orioles' only All-Star representative replaced Boston outfielder Jason Bay in the bottom of the fifth inning. Jones flied out against career saves leader Trevor Hoffman in the sixth, then came through in the eighth with runners at the corners and one out.

"I just got up there trying to put wood on the ball, didn't care what the pitch was. If it was close, I was going to put wood on it," he said. "I'm a hard guy to double up. If I put the ball in play, we got a good chance of getting a run in."

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SMOOTH SAILING: There was one thing Zack Greinke was dreading about the All-Star game: that glitzy parade through town, with players propped up in the back of pickup trucks as fans line the closed-off streets.

"That's the only thing I want to avoid," the Kansas City pitcher said Monday. "The red carpet sounds like the most miserable time of my life."

Greinke is still uneasy about being the center of attention. An elite prospect when he arrived in the majors five years ago at age 20, he walked away from baseball for two months in 2006 and was diagnosed with social anxiety disorder, which causes an irrational fear of social situations.

Medication eased Greinke's anxiety and he started to enjoy pitching again. Now, he's one of the top starters in the game.

Greinke pitched a perfect fourth inning Tuesday night, retiring Raul Ibanez on a popup and striking out David Wright and Shane Victorino.

"The Royals stuck with me. I'm surprised they did. I probably tried to get traded a couple of times back in the day, but they decided to keep me anyway," Greinke said, adding that he's happy about that. "I really like it there."

Greinke is 10-5 with an AL-best 2.12 ERA. Still, he was passed over by manager Joe Maddon for starting honors Tuesday night in favor of Toronto ace Roy Halladay.

"I would have liked to have started, but it's not a real big deal," Greinke said. "I think he made the right decision, just because he's done it forever and I've done it for half a season."

Turns out, the red-carpet parade on Tuesday wasn't so bad, either. Greinke rode in a truck with his fiancee and said he actually enjoyed the experience.

"It was definitely way better than I thought," he said. "I thought it was going to be longer. The weather wasn't bad. There were a lot of fans yelling, but it was all positive stuff. I had Emily there to talk to, so it wasn't that bad."

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MAD HATTER: When pitcher Mark Buehrle of the Chicago White Sox reached into his locker and opened his box of baseball caps, he thought somebody was playing a trick on him.

They were all Minnesota Twins hats, Chicago's biggest rival in the AL Central.

"I kind of laughed. I wanted to look around and see if someone was messing with me," Buehrle said.

Moments later, the left-hander called over to Twins catcher Joe Mauer and asked, "Hey, Joe, you hear about this?"

Mauer smiled and chuckled.

Buehrle laughed off the temporary mix-up, too. But he chose not to tempt fate.

"I didn't put one on," Buehrle said.

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AP Baseball Writer Ben Walker contributed to this report.






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