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American League continues dominance at All-Star Game

American League continues dominance at All-Star Game

American League continues dominance at All-Star Game

San Francisco, CA (Sports Network) - Ichiro Suzuki hit the first inside-the- park home run in All-Star Game history, leading the American League to continued dominance in the Mid-Summer Classic with a 5-4 victory over the National League.

Suzuki's fifth-inning home run -- aided by an odd bounce off a banner covering the right-field wall -- gave the American League a 2-1 lead and carried the Seattle Mariners center fielder to the Most Valuable Player Award.

"Now I have a great memory and a great memory of San Francisco," said Suzuki.

And that piece of hardware may just be the beginning for Suzuki, who is reportedly close to finalizing a five-year contract extension with the Mariners.

The American League continued its dominance, winning for the fifth straight time and improving its record to 10-0-1 in the last 11 meetings. The Senior Circuit hasn't won an All-Star Game since 1996.

With the victory, the American League champions will have home field advantage in the World Series.

It didn't come without drama. Dmitri Young's two-out grounder to Brian Roberts in the hole between first and second was gloved then dropped for an infield single, and Alfonso Soriano belted a two-run shot just over the wall tight to the line in right for a 5-4 game.

J.J. Putz was relieved, but Francisco Rodriguez wasn't much better. The Angels closer walked Derrek Lee and Orlando Hudson to load the bases for Philadelphia Phillies center fielder Aaron Rowand.

Rowand looked at a strike before flying out to right.

Suzuki finished 3-for-3 and Carl Crawford and Victor Martinez hit home runs for the AL, the latter a two-run shot in the eighth that made the score 5-2.

Josh Beckett picked up the victory, tossing two scoreless frames, while Rodriguez retired Rowand to pick up the save.

"I don't think we dominated tonight. It was a great ballgame. I am so happy," said Detroit and American League manager Jim Leyland.

New York Mets shortstop Jose Reyes had three hits and scored once while Ken Griffey drove in two runs and threw out Alex Rodriguez at the plate.

"I really felt like we went about it the right way," St. Louis and National League manager Tony LaRussa said. "I felt good about it. We had a lot of life defensively and offensively."

Hometown favorite Barry Bonds, just five homers shy of breaking Hank Aaron's all-time home run record, finished 0-for-2 with a pair of fly outs, including a ball that reached the rim of the warning track in left.

Chris Young gave up Suzuki's homer to take the loss. Billy Wagner also gave up two runs in just one inning of work.

Reyes triggered a scoring chance in the bottom of the first, singling to center then stealing second base, all too commonplace for the big-league leader in that category with 46 steals.

Griffey answered the bell with a two-out base hit to center, chasing home Reyes for the 1-0 edge.

The American League put together a threat in the fourth. Alex Rodriguez led off with a single, stole second then raced around third on Ivan Rodriguez's single to right.

Griffey, however, threw a dart that short-hopped catcher Russell Martin slightly up the line, but Rodriguez was out by five feet to end the threat.

One inning later, Griffey's outfield defense and the aid of a banner gave the American League the lead. Roberts walked, and with one out, Suzuki hit a towering shot to deep right-center field. Griffey played for a carom into center field, but the ball hit low on the wall off a banner and kicked towards right.

Roberts scored and Suzuki rounded the bases for an inside-the-park home run and a 2-1 advantage.

Crawford battled through a nine-pitch at-bat against Francisco Cordero in the top of the sixth, eventually lining a pitch just over the brick wall in right- center for a 3-1 lead.

Carlos Beltran hit a ball a little lower and just to the right of Crawford's homer, bouncing hard off the wall for a leadoff triple in the bottom of the frame. Griffey then drove him home with a screaming sacrifice fly to right.

Mike Lowell singled off Billy Wagner to start the top of the eighth and Martinez gave the AL some breathing room with a line drive that cleared the wall in left for a 5-2 game.

Game Notes

Detroit Tigers pitcher Justin Verlander hit 100 miles per hour on the radar gun in the sixth...Paula Cole sang "God Bless America" during the seventh- inning stretch...The National League left nine men on base...Both starting hurlers pitched well. American League starter Dan Haren allowed one run on two hits with two strikeouts in two innings, while Jake Peavy tossed a scoreless frame for the National League.

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