Holliday plays key role in NL's victory
Slugger's single sets up McCann; short nights for Pujols, Molina
ANAHEIM -- Fans voted Albert Pujols and Yadier Molina into the All-Star Game, but it was teammate Matt Holliday who came up with the biggest hit by a Redbird in the National League's 3-1 win on Tuesday night.
The outfielder replaced Ryan Braun in the fifth but didn't bat until the seventh, when he came to the plate with one on and one out. With the NL trailing by a 1-0 score, Holliday poked a single to center field, and Scott Rolen motored all the way to third, putting the go-ahead run on base. After a popup and a walk, Brian McCann doubled home three runs, giving the NL the lead. Holliday went right back through the box on a 95-mph fastball from Yankees youngster Phil Hughes.
"He'd just thrown me a slider," Holliday said. "I didn't know he had a slider. I was trying to think right back up through the middle. Tried to think on every pitch, single back up the middle. I got a fastball over the plate and put the barrel to it."
Fortunately, it was his hit and not another play that Holliday will remember from the game. In the bottom half of the inning, he lost a bead on John Buck's liner to left field, and the ball bounced in and out of his glove.
"I didn't even see it," he said. "I put my hand up, but I couldn't close it because I didn't know when it was going to hit my glove."
The Cardinals' starters, meanwhile, played for longer but had smaller parts in the game.
Pujols, the reigning National League Most Valuable Player and the league's leading vote-getter, was pulled after two at-bats and 3 1/2 innings. He smoked a ball to right field in the first inning, but Ichiro Suzuki made an impressive running catch to rob Pujols of a likely extra-base hit. In the fourth, he struck out against Cliff Lee, and he was removed from the game for Adrian Gonzalez before the next half-inning.
"[Manager Charlie Manuel] told me that before the game even started," Pujols said. "He said, 'Hey, I'm only giving you two at-bats.' I was like, 'You're the manager, whatever.' What am I going to say? It's good to give an opportunity to guys like Gonzalez and Joey Votto. You can't be greedy when you have superstars like that in the dugout that want to get in the game.
"To me I want to thank the fans for voting me in. Did I want to play more? Yeah, but I also want to give the opportunity to other guys."
While Pujols had the hardest-hit ball of the early going for the NL, Molina delivered the Senior Circuit's first uncontested base hit. He poked a solid roller up the middle with two outs in the third inning, though he was erased when the next batter, Hanley Ramirez, grounded into a force. Molina is now 2-for-3 in two All-Star Games. Manuel lifted Molina for McCann with two outs and two on in the fifth, and McCann flied out to the track. Molina's night was short, but his experience was an enjoyable one.
"It was pretty good for me because my brothers played here, my two brothers Bengie and Jose," Molina said. "To be in the same stadium that they won the World Series makes it special for me. It's a very good experience."
Chris Carpenter did not appear in the game for the NL, but even so, he had a pleasant three days in California.
"It's definitely different just because my kids are older," he said. "[My son] Sam was able to spend the whole day with me here yesterday, which was fun. He really enjoyed it. Having my daughter on the field, she really enjoyed that. It's fun and exciting, because like I've said before, with everything that I've gone through, to come back and be 35 years old and still able to do this, and honored like this, is pretty neat."
Matthew Leach is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.