ANAHEIM, Calif. - One key swing by Brian McCann pulled the National League out of the All-Star shadows.
McCann’s three-run double in the seventh inning was all the offense the NL needed to win its first Midsummer Classic since 1996, a 3-1 victory Tuesday.
“You dream of moments like this as a kid. It was amazing,” said MVP McCann, a catcher for the Atlanta Braves and a five-time All-Star, but relatively unknown before this night.
In a year of dominant pitching, young starters David Price and Ubaldo Jimenez set the tone — and got help from the tricky shadows. Nearly the entire field at Angel Stadium was bathed in odd patterns of sunlight for a twilight first pitch, creating more awkward swings and misses than usual in baseball’s annual talent show.
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The result gives the National League home-field advantage in this year’s World Series.
“It’s a big deal. I think home teams play better at home,” said NL manager Charlie Manuel, whose Phillies have reached the past two World Series and won in 2008.
The American League didn’t go down without some ninth-inning drama, started by David Ortiz’s leadoff single. But Jonathan Broxton sealed it, helped by an alert play from right fielder Marlon Byrd and shaky baserunning by Big Papi.
Ortiz was on first with one out when John Buck hit a blooper that Byrd scooped up and threw to second for a forceout on the slow-moving Boston DH. With Alex Rodriguez standing on the steps in the AL dugout, Ian Kinsler flied out and the NL had its win.
“It felt awesome for us to get the win and break the streak,” Broxton said.
CAREW ONLY HIGHLIGHT
Angels center fielder Torii Hunter caught the ceremonial first pitch from retired Angels great Rod Carew before the game and autographed the ball for the 15-time All-Star.
That turned out to be the personal highlight for Hunter, who was 0-for-2 and struck out with the tying runs at the corners against Adam Wainwright.
It was the fourth All-Star appearance for Hunter, who came in as a defensive replacement in the fourth inning and finished the game. He is hitless in six career at-bats as an All-Star.
SELIG BACKS ARIZONA
Bud Selig considers Arizona’s new immigration law a political issue and is showing no signs that Major League Baseball will shift next year’s All-Star Game out of the state.
A day after Milwaukee pitcher Yovani Gallardo and other All-Stars said they might boycot the 2011 game at Phoenix in protest, the commissioner never mentioned a possible shift.
The situation “will be solved in the political process at the appropriate time,” Selig said Tuesday. “We’ll do things when baseball can influence decisions.”