AL offense dries up in loss in Phoenix
PHOENIX - Red Sox first baseman Adrian Gonzalez did his part in the All-Star Game last night, belting a home run in the fourth inning to give the American League the lead.
But if Gonzalez and the Sox advance to the World Series, they will not have the home-field advantage as the National League rallied to a 5-1 victory at Chase Field.
Most Valuable Player Prince Fielder hit a three-run homer in the bottom of the fourth off losing pitcher C.J Wilson to give the NL all the runs it needed.
The NL has won the last two games, its first win streak since winning three straight from 1994-96. The AL had won 12 in a row before last season excluding the tie in 2002.
The AL was held to six hits and has scored two runs in the last two All-Star Games.
“In these All-Star Games, anything can happen. They have great pitching,’’ said Sox third baseman Kevin Youkilis, who singled in his only at-bat. “But it was a lot of fun and I enjoyed myself.’’
Gonzalez connected off Cliff Lee a night after he took second place in the Home Run Derby.
“He threw me a fastball away and I swung through and then he came back with a cutter and I was able to stay on it and get it up in the air,’’ said Gonzalez, who had grounded out in his first at-bat facing Roy Halladay. “It was great to be able to produce and help our team. It was a great experience here.’’
Outside of Gonzalez and Youkilis, it was not productive night for the other Sox players in the game.
Josh Beckett, who was slated to pitch an inning, bowed out after feeling some soreness in his left knee while warming up. David Ortiz was 0 for 2 with a groundout and a strikeout. Jacoby Ellsbury was 0 for 2 with two strikeouts.
“[AL manager] Ron Washington said let’s have fun, but this game means a lot,’’ Ortiz said. “Try not to get hurt and go back to your team healthy, but play the game hard. We all think about [home-field advantage], that’s why we try to win.’’
Ellsbury struck out facing Braves pitchers Jair Jurrjens and Jonny Venters.
“It was a great experience. I came into it just trying to soak everything in,’’ Ellsbury said. “I just tried to meet everybody and enjoy it.’’
The NL used 10 pitchers with manager Bruce Bochy going to his closer, Brian Wilson, to get the last two outs with two runners on base. The New Hampshire native with the bushy black beard took care of business to get the save.
“It’s hard to beat great pitching and a three-run homer,’’ Bochy said.
Washington said the lost of Beckett forced him to change his pitching plans and use Wilson earlier than expected.
“We are not going to use not having Josh as an excuse,’’ Washington said. “I think when you look at the ballgame, the bottom line is the National League pitching was outstanding. We ended up giving up one big inning and they didn’t give up any.’’
After Gonzalez homered in the fourth, Jose Bautista and Josh Hamilton followed with singles. Tyler Clippard of the Nationals took the mound and allowed a single to left field by Adrian Beltre.
Bautista was sent to the plate by third base coach Dave Anderson and was easily thrown out by Hunter Pence.
When the NL came back with three runs, Clippard ended up with the victory.
C.J. Wilson started the bottom of the inning and was rocked. Singles by Carlos Beltran and Matt Kemp preceded a blast to center field by Fielder.
The crowd of 47,994 booed Fielder when he was introduced before the game, angry that he had not picked Diamondbacks outfielder Justin Upton for the Home Run Derby.
“I didn’t take it too personal,’’ he said. “We won the MVP and we get to have home-field advantage, so it was pretty cool.’’
The lead grew to 4-1 in the fifth as Angels reliever Jordan Walden had a rough time. Troy Tulowitzki singled and was replaced by Starlin Castro, who stole second and third. He tried to score when Rickie Weeks grounded back to the mound, but Walden barehanded the ball and threw him out at the plate.
Weeks stole second and scored on a single by Andre Ethier, who grew up five minutes away from Chase Field.
Jurrjens got two outs in the seventh before Youkilis singled to left field. Craig Kimbrel, also of the Braves, replaced Jurrens and walked Paul Konerko.
Howie Kendrick had a chance to cut into the lead but grounded to second.
The NL tacked on in the seventh. Pence singled and raced to third on a passed ball by Matt Wieters, who could not handle a pitch from Brandon League. Pablo Sandoval than lined a double to left field.