AL 9, NL 4

Stars aligned

Sox' Ramirez and Ortiz hit homers as AL grabs a win

By Gordon Edes
Globe Staff / July 14, 2004
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HOUSTON -- It was supposed to be a homecoming party for the ages for Roger Clemens, whose ailing mom, Bess, was dressed festively in stars and stripes as she came, in a wheelchair, to see her son shine before the eyes of Texas.

Instead, Manny Ramirez and David Ortiz transformed the night into a celebration not of Red Sox stars past but Red Sox stars present, becoming the first Sox teammates to hit home runs in an All-Star Game, won by the American League for the seventh straight time (excluding ties), 9-4.

"Wow, that was unbelievable," said the third member of the Red Sox' All-Star contingent, Curt Schilling, who had become a scratch last week because of his sore right ankle. "That was worth the trip. I've been watching these guys do this day in and day out for a couple of months.

"I'm especially happy for David. To see him do this on a national stage, hopefully this will get him some recognition."

Clemens, three weeks shy of his 42d birthday, suffered through the longest first inning any All-Star pitcher ever has had to endure, giving up six runs, the most ever allowed in a first inning, as the AL Stars hit for the cycle -- two home runs, a double, triple, and a single in one full turn through the lineup.

"I was kidding last week about scoring five or six runs off him in the first inning, never dreaming it was ever possible," said AL manager Joe Torre, whose team had 14 hits before a tepid sellout gathering of 41,886 in Minute Maid Park. "Roger's a very emotional person. I'm sure he was run ragged this week."

Ramirez hit the first home run off Clemens, a two-run drive into the left-field seats on an 0-2 pitch, giving the AL a 3-0 lead. It was the first All-Star homer for Ramirez, and came after a double by leadoff man Ichiro Suzuki of the Mariners and triple by Detroit's Pudge Rodriguez.

Alfonso Soriano, like Ramirez and Ortiz from the Dominican Republic, hit a three-run home run off Clemens, following a two-out error by another hometown Star, Astros second baseman Jeff Kent, and Derek Jeter's single. Soriano, who was the chip the Yankees used to acquire Alex Rodriguez from Texas in the winter's most celebrated trade, was named the game's Most Valuable Player.

The win will give the American League the home-field advantage for the World Series, making it 2 for 2 since Major League Baseball decided to use the All-Star Game to determine who gets the extra game in October.

Clemens was as thoroughly beaten as if he'd tried to go toe to toe with Muhammad Ali in his prime. Ali tossed the ceremonial first pitch.

"It was still a great night for him," said Jeter, Clemens's former Yankee teammate, noting that Clemens returned to the field to receive the commissioner's historic achievement award. "I don't think he'll lose any sleep tonight."

Ortiz, who was eliminated in the first round of Monday's Home Run Derby, entered the game as a pinch hitter for Ramirez in the fourth and walked. He remained in the game at first base and drove a 423-foot home run into the second deck off Florida pitcher Carl Pavano, the former Red Sox prospect, with a man aboard in the sixth.

"Manny said he called my shot," Ortiz said. "Do I believe him? Yes. He said, `Every time I hit a home run, you hit one, too.' Unbelievable. Oh, man, it was very exciting. It was fun."

"I met so many great guys, man. I'm very impressed the way everybody is," he added. "I have respect for everybody who plays the game, but now I think I have even more. Everybody was so respectful and friendly, it was unbelievable."

Ramirez was gone before the clubhouses opened after the game, as was Clemens.

The 26-year-old Soriano, understandably, was one of the last to leave.

"I feel a little sorry [for Clemens] because he's been nice to me all the time, but you know, I had to do my job in the game. I'm sorry, but I'm happy right now."

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