Fielder's HR gives NL second straight All-Star win

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Fielder's HR gives NL second straight All-Star win

July 12, 2011
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PHOENIX (AP) -- Prince Fielder's three-run homer sailed over the left-field wall at Chase Field, and the conveyor belt from the National League bullpen began.One after another, a hard-throwing pitcher walked to the mound - well, one of them sprinted and slid into the infield feet first - and then shut down the American League's hitters for the second straight year.With pitching, speed and a little bit of power from the Prince, the NL is king of the All-Star game once again, using the same formula that worked during its dominating run in the 1970s and '80s.Roy Halladay combined with nine relievers on a six-hitter in the NL's 5-1 victory Tuesday night, giving the senior circuit its first two-game winning streak since the mid-1990s.Brian Wilson got two outs for manager Bruce Bochy and earned the save, just as he did for the Giants skipper when San Francisco won the championship last November."It felt like a little bit like last year when you come into a pressure situation and you try to do a clutch performance as you can," Wilson said.Heath Bell provided the image of the night an inning earlier, sprinting in from the bullpen and tearing up the turf with a slide just short of the mound."I told some guys I wanted to have fun this All-Star game and needed some ideas, so guys back home kind of said slide on the mound," he revealed. "Bochy said before the game that this really counts, so I thought I was not going to do it, but then we were up by four runs."His NL teammates were impressed."I think he nailed it," Wilson said. "I don't know if I'd make it. I think I'd slip, ankle, flip, next thing you know I can't pitch."The NL claimed home-field advantage in the World Series, its only blemish being Adrian Gonzalez's homer in the fourth off Cliff Lee. Fielder connected in the bottom half of the inning."It's hard to beat great pitching and a three-run homer," Bochy said.With several big names as no-shows, the AL lost more than the game.Boston right-hander Josh Beckett warmed up, then bowed out with a sore knee. Detroit slugger Miguel Cabrera left after hurting the oblique muscle in his side while swinging."We are not going to use not having Josh as an excuse," AL manager Ron Washington said. "I think when you look at the ballgame, the bottom line is the National League pitching was outstanding. You know, we ended up giving up one big inning and they didn't give up any."Even before they were hurt, many stars were missing. Justin Verlander, Felix Hernandez, CC Sabathia and other aces who started Sunday were ineligible, Alex Rodriguez was among those on the disabled list and Derek Jeter wanted a break. In all, 16 of 84 All-Stars dropped out.Tyler Clippard got the win despite allowing a single to his only batter, Adrian Beltre. Clayton Kershaw, Jair Jurrjens, Craig Kimbrel, Jonny Venters, Joel Hanrahan also relieved and combined to keep the NL ahead.Fielder won the MVP award after becoming the first Brewers player to homer in an All-Star game. The World Series edge could help him later, with Milwaukee and St. Louis tied for the Central lead at the break. A half-hour after the win, the Brewers announced they had traded for former All-Star closer Francisco Rodriguez of the New York Mets."That was part of the message, how important it was for us, and how important the game was: Do it again for the National League champion," Bochy said.Fielder, son of former All-Star Cecil Fielder, was booed during the Home Run Derby a day earlier. He was the NL captain for the Derby, and local fans were angry he didn't select Arizona's Justin Upton."I didn't take it personal at all," Fielder said. "I understood it. No hard feelings."Andre Ethier singled in a run off rookie reliever Jordan Walden in the fifth, and slimmed-down Pablo Sandoval had an RBI double off Brandon League in the seventh.The NL dashed around the bases and swiped three bags, all in one inning and two by Starlin Castro. In all, the Nationals have enjoyed their best run since taking three in a row from 1994-96 - they had lost 12 straight games played to a decision before a 3-1 victory at Anaheim last year.Before a crowd of 47,994 that included Muhammad Ali, this was no desert classic - except for fans of pitching, which has become resurgent as the Steroids Era has receded. Scoring in the first half dropped to its lowest level in 19 years and the major league batting average shrunk to its smallest midseason figure since 1985.The All-Star homers were the first since J.D. Drew connected at Yankee Stadium three years ago. The AL finished with six hits for the second straight year and its two-year total of two runs is its lowest since 1995-96."Just a coincidence," Curtis Granderson said.Given the temperature outside, the theme song could have been Buster Poindexter's "Hot Hot Hot." And except for Lee, that's what the NL pitching was.Texas' C.J. Wilson, the fourth AL pitcher, took the loss for the team run by his manager, Washington. Wilson had trouble with the unfamiliar role of late: coming out of the 'pen."It is a complete circus. You don't have a routine at all," he said. "The ball launches here."Outside in the 99-degree heat, two separate groups opposed to Arizona's controversial immigration law protested outside before the game. One quietly passed out white ribbons that symbolized peace and unity and the other loudly chanting in bullhorns and marching in circles with signs that read "Boycott hate" and "Stand with us."However, there was little sign of the ribbons in the stands.While it was hot outside in the Sonoran Desert, it was a comfy 72 thanks to an 8,000-ton cooling system in the ballpark.Halladay and Lee showed the strength that has given Philadelphia the best record in the majors, Halladay retired six straight batters - the first to do that in an All-Star game since Roger Clemens in 2001. Lee got out his first five."I figured a lot of those guys were going to be swinging early," said Halladay, who started for the AL in 2009 and joined Vida Blue, Clemens and Randy Johnson as the only pitchers to open for both leagues.Gonzalez, who switched leagues in the offseason by going from San Diego to Boston, lined an 86 mph cutter just to the right-field side of the swimming pool, where women in bikinis and a man in a Santa Claus outfit were watching.Carlos Beltran singled to shortstop leading off the bottom half and Matt Kemp singled before Fielder gave the NL a 3-1 lead by hitting an 88 mph cutter the opposite way to left-center on a 2-2 count. The drive gave every major league team except the Diamondbacks at least one All-Star home run."They've got great pitching and great hitting," Kevin Youkilis said. "That's what makes these things kind of fun."NOTES: There was a moment of silence before the game for the victims of the Tucson shootings in January, among them Christina-Taylor Green, the 9-year-old daughter of Dodgers scout John Green and granddaughter of former major league manager and GM Dallas Green. Her parents and brother brought the lineup cards to home plate. Families of the victims sat near the third-base dugout. Daniel Hernandez, an intern who helped save the life of U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords during the shootings, threw out a ceremonial first pitch along with Joe Garagiola. ... Beckett warmed up to start the second but felt soreness in his left knee and didn't pitch. "If it was a regular game, I could have pitched through it," he said. ... RF Jose Bautista made a sliding catch in foul territory in the right-field corner on Brian McCann before hitting the wall feet first. ... The NL has outscored the AL 344-341. ... This was the first time the DH was used for an All-Star game in an NL ballpark. ... Even though the NL won for just the fifth time in 24 years, it holds a 42-38-2 advantage.

Altidore, Dempsey lead US past Costa Rica, into Gold Cup final at Levi's

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AP

Altidore, Dempsey lead US past Costa Rica, into Gold Cup final at Levi's

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ARLINGTON, Texas — Clint Dempsey fed Jozy Altidore for the go-ahead goal, then scored on a free kick to match Landon Donovan’s American record with his 57th international goal and lead the United States over Costa Rica 2-0 Saturday night and into the CONCACAF Gold Cup championship game.

Playing in his home state of Texas, the 34-year-old Dempsey entered in the 66th minute and made a perfectly timed through pass six minutes later that allowed Altidore to break in alone and beat Patrick Pemberton with a left-footed shot from 10 yards.

Dempsey doubled the lead in the 82nd minute with a 27-yard shot that went around a four-man defensive wall and got past Pemberton on two bounces.

“I saw the keeper cheating a little bit, and it went in,” Dempsey said.

Dempsey has 136 international appearances, trailing only Cobi Jones (164) and Donovan (157) among American players. The assist was his 20th for the national team.

“Coming back from two heart procedures, being able to still play at this level,” Dempsey said in his Texas twang, “living a dream. So I’m happy.”

Trying for their sixth Gold Cup title and first since 2013, the Americans play Mexico or Jamaica in the final on Wednesday at Santa Clara, California.

The U.S. improved to 8-0-5 since Bruce Arena replaced Jurgen Klinsmann in November and returned for a second stint as national team coach. Arena can become the first coach to win three Gold Cup titles following championships in 2002 and 2005.

Tim Howard got his second straight shutout, making key saves on Marco Urena in the 37th and 71st minutes.

After the second save, Dempsey took a pass from Darlington Nagbe in the center circle, made a cut, and took three touches as he sprinted toward goal. Altidore one-timed a shot for his first national team goal since September and ripped off his No. 27 jersey in a wild celebration, earning a yellow card.

Dempsey’s goal sealed the win, putting the U.S. back in the championship after a shocking semifinal loss to Jamaica two years ago. He was playing for the first time in AT&T Stadium, the $1.2 billion home stadium of the NFL’s Dallas Cowboys that is about 180 miles from his hometown of Nacogdoches.

“Congratulations, Clint,” Donovan said while working on the Fox telecast of the game. “Feel free to stop now, we’ll share it together.”

After starting in Wednesday’s quarterfinal win over El Salvador, Dempsey moved to a reserve role against the Ticos. While the U.S. inserted five new starters in a roster rotation, Costa Rica went with the same 11 players who started in Wednesday’s win against Panama.

Costa Rica routed the U.S. 4-0 at home in a World Cup qualifier in November, the final game before Klinsmann was fired and Arena was brought back. And up ahead is another matchup, a qualifier on Sept. 1 at Harrison, New Jersey.

Morris, one of the new starters, hit a post just 11 seconds in.

Just before kickoff, El Salvador defender Henry Romero was suspended for his nation’s next six competitive matches and midfielder Darwin Ceren for the next three, those penalties coming three days after Romero bit Altidore and Ceren bit Omar Gonzalez during the quarterfinal. The Confederation of North, Central America and Caribbean Association Football said the discipline was issued by the Gold Cup disciplinary committee for “anti-sporting behavior.”

A's blow five-run lead, watch Mets walk off with victory

A's blow five-run lead, watch Mets walk off with victory

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NEW YORK -- Wilmer Flores hit a solo home run with two outs in the bottom of the ninth inning, and the New York Mets rallied from an early five-run deficit to beat the Oakland Athletics 6-5 Saturday night for their fourth consecutive victory.

Pinch-hitter Lucas Duda delivered a tying single with two outs in the eighth off left-hander Daniel CoulombeJay Bruce hit a two-run homer in the sixth to begin New York's comeback, and Jose Reyes tripled twice.

Flores connected on a 96 mph fastball from Simon Castro (0-1), sending a line drive to left field for the second game-ending homer of his career. That sent a frenzied crowd of 39,629 home happy - hours after fans lined up early in the heat outside Citi Field to get their Noah Syndergaard as Thor bobbleheads.

Matt Joyce hit a leadoff home run and Matt Chapman added a prodigious shot for Oakland, which scored four in the first off struggling Mets starter Zack Wheeler.

Sean Manaea took a shutout into the sixth but then wilted after throwing a career-high 115 pitches Sunday in his previous start, a win against Cleveland.

Hansel Robles (6-1) tossed a hitless inning to win for the second straight day.

MAN ON THE MOVE:
With Mets second baseman Neil Walker nearing a return from the disabled list, perhaps Monday in San Diego, Asdrubal Cabrera made his first major league start at third and played flawless defense after working out at the position once. Cabrera's only previous appearance at the hot corner came during his rookie season in 2007 with Cleveland. "He's a middle infielder who's going to play third base. Got great hands, great arm. He'll be fine," manager Terry Collins said. Cabrera initially balked at shifting from shortstop to second when he came off the DL about a month ago.

TRAINER'S ROOM:
Athletics: Ryon Healy had a pinch-hit single after getting hit near the left temple by a bad-hop grounder Friday night. Healy went through the concussion protocol and was cleared, manager Bob Melvin said. ... Melvin said he would have news after the game regarding RHP Jharel Cotton, on the DL since July 4 with a blister on his right thumb. Cotton threw a bullpen Friday. Oakland needs a starter for Monday night at Toronto. ... INF-OF Chad Pinder (strained left hamstring) homered Friday on his rehab assignment with Triple-A Nashville and could come off the DL when Oakland begins a homestand next weekend. "That's kind of the target area," Melvin said.

Mets: Walker (left hamstring) went 1 for 3 with Triple-A Las Vegas at Memphis in the first game of rehab assignment. The switch-hitter has been on the DL since June 15. ... LHP Josh Smoker threw a scoreless sixth in his first outing since coming off the disabled list Thursday. Smoker had been sidelined since June 14 with a strained left shoulder.

UP NEXT:
Oakland rookie right-hander Daniel Gossett (1-5, 5.79 ERA) makes his eighth career start in Sunday's series finale against RHP Rafael Montero (1-6, 5.40). Gossett has given up 10 homers in 37 1/3 innings after yielding only four in 60 2/3 innings at Triple-A.