- The Washington Times - Wednesday, July 10, 2002

MILWAUKEE Apparently, the All-Star Game really is nothing more than an exhibition.

The American and National leagues threw everything they had at each other last night in the 73rd edition of the Midsummer Classic. And when 11 innings passed with absolutely nothing resolved, they made the previously unheard of decision to call the game with the score tied 7-7.

Having used up all 60 available players and not wanting to force the last two pitchers to throw more than two innings, the managers, umpires and commissioner Bud Selig determined that the game would end after the bottom of the 11th inning, regardless of the score.

When that decision was announced over the PA system at Miller Park, the sellout crowd of 41,871 booed relentlessly and started a chant of "Let them play! Let them play!"

The cries fell on deaf ears. When Benito Santiago struck out looking with two outs and a runner on second in the bottom of the 11th, the game was over and a bizarre new chapter in All-Star history was written.

There was no winning pitcher. There was no losing pitcher. There was no MVP. Only a lot of upset fans who were already gearing for a potential players' strike in the coming months.

It was the 10th extra-inning game in All-Star history, the previous nine having all been won by the NL. Thanks to an hour-long pregame ceremony that recognized baseball's most memorable moments and the late Ted Williams, the game did not start until 9:06 p.m. yesterday. It was 12:35 a.m. today when the game was ultimately called the second tie game in All-Star history (the 1961 game was called after nine innings because of rain).

This All-Star Game featured a host of dominating relief pitchers a record 11 were selected by the two managers. But given the opportunity to close last night's game out, the majority of them wound up blowing it.

Arizona's Byung-Hyun Kim (no stranger to devastating disasters on the national stage), Seattle's Kazuhiro Sasaki and San Francisco's Robb Nen each lost late-inning leads and left the game undecided heading into the ninth.

Kim, who became a household name when he gave up ninth-inning home runs on consecutive days in last fall's World Series, was last night's first victim.

Trailing 5-3 in the seventh, AL manager Joe Torre sent up Baltimore's Tony Batista to pinch-hit. NL manager Bob Brenly countered with Kim, his sidewinding Korean right-hander who has been one of his league's best closers this season.

He just can't figure out how to pitch against American League hitters.

Batista greeted Kim with an RBI single down the left-field line that made it 5-4. Miguel Tejada followed with a single up the middle. And Paul Konerko brought them both home with a double to deep left-center that gave the AL its first lead of the night.

It didn't last long. The NL stormed back in the bottom of the inning off Sasaki, the Mariners' closer du jour, to retake the lead and get Kim off the hook.

Mike Lowell singled, Damian Miller (Kim's Arizona batterymate) drilled his second double of the night and Lance Berkman gave the NL the lead again with a two-run single to right.

Enter Nen, a veteran closer and one of the best in the business. No matter because Omar Vizquel roped a triple to right in the eighth that scored Rob Fick and tied the game 7-7.

The late-inning seesaw overshadowed Barry Bonds' early display of power.

Fans who showed up Monday night for the Home Run Derby were disappointed to see Bonds eliminated in the first round after going deep just twice.

When it came time for the actual game, though, the most prodigious home run hitter of his time had home-run swings in both of his at-bats. One left the park; the other was brought back into it by Torii Hunter.

When Bonds hit a towering fly ball to right-center off Derek Lowe in the first, the crowd held its collective breath. And when the Minnesota Twins' Hunter climbed the wall and robbed Bonds of a homer, the stadium let out a huge roar of approval.

"I've seen it so many times on TV," said Lowe, who gave up one run in two innings in his first All-Star start. "It was amazing."

Said Sammy Sosa: "For a moment, I thought he was Michael Jordan."

Bonds made sure in his next at-bat that neither Hunter nor anyone else in the outfield was going to rob him. Following Todd Helton's RBI single, Bonds worked the count to 3-0 against Toronto's Roy Halladay.

The Giants' slugger then crushed a line drive to right field that seemed to leave the park faster than anyone could watch it fly. The ball caromed off the back bullpen wall, 385 feet from home plate, and Bonds coasted around the bases with his second career All-Star home run.

National League starting pitcher Curt Schilling brought his usual intensity to the park. Schilling didn't look like he was pitching in an exhibition this might as well have been Game7 of last year's World Series.

The veteran right-hander, making his second All-Star start, got Ichiro Suzuki to ground out on the game's first pitch, then really went to work. With a fastball that approached triple digits, Schilling proceeded to strike out both Shea Hillenbrand and Alex Rodriguez, making good on a promise he made to the Rangers' star shortstop the day before.

"I told him if he got up there with two outs and nobody on that I was going to throw him nothing but fastballs," Schilling said. "And they were going to be the best fastballs that I could throw.

"And we got to play it out. I was like a kid in a candy store. It was one of the few times I can remember as a big leaguer where you can actually enjoy the moment and feel and have fun."

Schilling made it through the second inning unscathed, allowing only a single to Manny Ramirez before departing for Pirates closer Mike Williams, who struck out two in a perfect third.

The AL finally strung together some hits in the fourth off Odalis Perez, when Jason Giambi singled, took second on a passed ball by Mike Piazza and scored on Ramirez's single to right.

Alfonso Soriano, who has 20 home runs as the Yankees' leadoff hitter this year, displayed his power stroke with a 413-foot shot to left-center off Eric Gagne in the fifth.

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