Originally created 07/09/98

AL, Coors big winners in Denver

DENVER -- Greg Maddux, Roger Clemens and baseball's best pitchers had no chance Tuesday night. Coors Field conquered them all.

The park lived up to its billing as a hitter's haven with MVP Roberto Alomar and Alex Rodriguez homering and helping the American League beat the Nationals 13-8 in the highest-scoring All-Star game ever.

"When you watch the scoring in Denver, you always see big numbers," Alomar said. "This ballpark, this is what was expected."

A crowd of 51,267 and a national TV audience that tuned in to see a run-fest and a fun-fest got exactly what it wanted. Barry Bonds' three-run homer for the NL was among the record-tying 31 hits.

The tone was set from the start when Maddux, leading the majors with a 1.54 ERA, gave up singles to Kenny Lofton and Alomar to start the game.

"No lead is ever good in this place," Mark McGwire said. "You have to play it to the last out."

The runs came in all sorts of ways. While three balls flew over the fences, several others carried a long way in the Mile High air. At one point, Clemens pointed skyward when he thought Bonds had hit a popup -- the ball wound up on the warning track.

"Maybe it's the light air here in Colorado," Cal Ripken said.

Sometimes, outfielders playing deep had no chance to rush in and catch bloopers. Other times, batters took advantage of curve balls that don't curve well in Denver to hit wicked grounders past helpless fielders.

And there were the bunch of broken-bat jobs that managed to sneak through the field -- beautifully cut with big stars in the infield and outfield -- for hits.

All told, the AL matched All-Star marks for runs and hits (19) by one team and got at least one hit in every inning.

Alomar got three hits and won the MVP award a year after his brother, Cleveland catcher Sandy Alomar, earned the honor. Rodriguez also had three hits and Ken Griffey Jr. got two for the AL while substitute Devon White had three for the NL.

Atlanta shortstop Walt Weiss got two hits and the cheers of his 3-year-old son, Brody, recently out of the hospital after fighting off a life-threatening strain of E. coli bacteria.

"Looks like it's going to be a happy ending," Weiss said. "My boy is going to be fine."

Rafael Palmeiro's RBI single in AL ninth accounted for the 21st run, breaking the record set in the AL's 11-9 win in 1954.

All that, and still a couple of defensive plays enabled the AL to cut the National League's overall lead to 40-28-1.

Left fielder Paul O'Neill threw out Fernando Vina at the plate to preserve a 10-8 lead in the eighth, and shortstop Omar Vizquel followed by turning a nifty double play on the next batter.

In a fitting twist, Cleveland's Bartolo Colon got the win despite giving up Bonds' homer in the fifth, the only inning he pitched.

"He had to give up a three-run homer to get the win," AL manager Mike Hargrove of Cleveland said. "It's kind of a double-edged sword."

Montreal's Ugueth Urbina was the loser in a game that lasted 3 hours, 38 minutes, making it the longest nine-inning All-Star game in history.

In an odd twist, sluggers McGwire and Juan Gonzalez did little.

McGwire, leading the majors with 37 homers, was 0-for-2. Gonzalez, leading the majors with 101 RBIs, got up with nine runners on base and drove in just one.

The AL bounced back quickly after Bonds' homer, scoring three times in the sixth for an 8-6 edge. A couple of infield hits, a wild pitch by Urbina and a passed ball by Javy Lopez did most of the damage.

Ripken broke Willie Mays' record with his 15th straight start, then hit a two-run double that keyed a four-run fourth off Tom Glavine for a 4-2 lead. The Iron Man didn't exactly drive the ball, but his opposite-field fly had no problem riding the light air and reaching the top of the right-field wall.

Weiss' second single off the game closed the NL to 4-3 in the bottom half and earned him another ovation from his wife, Brody and the fans who used to cheer him when he played for the Colorado Rockies.

Tony Gwynn, playing in his 13th All-Star game, put the NL ahead 2-0 in the third against Clemens by grounding a two-run single off Alomar's glove at second base.

The AL put runners on first and third to begin the game, but Maddux expertly escaped. He got Griffey on a foul pop to McGwire -- those two guys are bound to be linked all season -- in getting out of trouble.

"Tough lineup," Maddux said. "But I'm still breathing."Notes: NL reliever Jeff Shaw, celebrating his 32nd birthday, pitched the eighth. He was traded from Cincinnati to Los Angeles on Saturday, making him the first All-Star ever to be dealt between the time he was selected and the game itself. He wore a Dodgers uniform for the first time. ... Urbina is the only All-Star ever with a last name beginning with "U." ... At the seventh-inning stretch, the scoreboard showed a tape of the late Harry Caray singing "Take Me Out to the Ball Game." ... Rodriguez became the first catcher to get three hits in an All-Star game. ... Gwynn left the game following the fourth after aggravating a strained left hamstring. The injury is not considered serious. ... The AL stole a record five bases. ... Next year's All-Star game will be at Fenway Park in Boston. ... Barry and Bobby Bonds joined Griffey Jr. and Griffey Sr. as the only father-son combos to hit homers in All-Star play. ... Alomar's bat was already on its way to the Hall of Fame by the end of the game.


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