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American
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AL aims to continue All-Star Game dominance

Jul 15, 2008 - 11:32 AM National League at American League, 8:00 pm EDT

BRONX, New York (Ticker)- The American League is looking to claim home-field advantage in the World Series for the sixth straight year when it faces the National League in the All-Star Game on Tuesday at Yankee Stadium.

Since 1997, the AL has posted a 10-0-1 record in the Midsummer Classic. The AL Stars have not lost the game since Major League Baseball decided that the winner of the contest would get home-field advantage for their representative in the World Series.

The defending champion Boston Red Sox, who own the second-best record in the AL, have six players on the roster - including starters first baseman Kevin Youkilis, second baseman Dustin Pedroia and left fielder Manny Ramirez. The Red Sox would have had seven members, but designated hitter David Ortiz will not play due to injury.

The New York Yankees will be well-represented at their home ballpark for the Midsummer Classic with perennial All-Stars shortstop Derek Jeter, third baseman Alex Rodriguez and closer Mariano Rivera on the squad.

AL manager Terry Francona admitted that he considered, if only briefly, starting Rivera.

"Mariano Rivera may be the greatest reliever of all-time but he's not a starter," Francona said. "I don't think it would be fair to the starters."

Francona will send Cleveland Indians lefthander Cliff Lee (12-2, 2.31 ERA) to the mound. Lee is tied for the AL lead in wins with Joe Saunders of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim and his ERA ranks third in the majors.

"The last season in Yankee Stadium, it's going to be an honor to start the game," Lee said. "It's an honor to be here. To start the game is icing on the cake. I'm completely baffled and privileged to get the honor, so I appreciate it."

"There are a lot of pitchers having outstanding years and none measures up to Lee's," Francona said.

Ben Sheets (10-3, 2.85) of the Milwaukee Brewers will try to slow down the AL lineup, which also features Texas' Josh Hamilton and Milton Bradley, Minnesota's Joe Mauer and Seattle's Ichiro Suzuki.

Sheets was chosen by NL manager Clint Hurdle ahead of Arizona's Brandon Webb, who leads the major leagues in wins with 13.

"I know for a fact (Hurdle's) the most popular man in Louisiana," said Sheets, a native of Baton Rouge. "I've never been to Yankee Stadium. I'm just going to try to soak it all in."

The NL lineup will feature plenty of firepower as well. Chicago Cubs rookies Kosuke Fukudome and Geovany Soto will be at the bottom of a lineup that also boasts former MVPs Albert Pujols of the St. Louis Cardinals and Chipper Jones of the Atlanta Braves in the No. 4 and 5 spots, respectively.