O's in middle of AL's win

MVP Tejada hits homer, is 6th Oriole to win award

He, Roberts turn two double plays

Ryan pitches two-thirds of inning in 7-5 victory

All-star Game


DETROIT - They have been doing it all season in their little corner of the sporting world. Now, all of baseball has witnessed their excellence.

Last night, on the summer's biggest baseball stage, Baltimore's dynamic middle-infield duo offered a crash course on why the previously also-ran Orioles have hung around with the big boys in the American League East.

Orioles shortstop Miguel Tejada homered and drove in two runs, second baseman Brian Roberts doubled and scored a run, and they combined to turn two tough double plays to lead the American League to a 7-5 victory in major league baseball's 76th annual All-Star Game.

For his two-RBI, two double- play-turning night, Tejada was named the game's Most Valuable Player, a record sixth time an Oriole has won the honor since it was first presented in 1962. The Orioles had been tied with the San Francisco Giants and Los Angeles Dodgers for most All-Star Game MVPs.

Brooks Robinson ( 1966), Frank Robinson ( 1971), Roberto Alomar ( 1998) and Cal Ripken ( 1991, 2001) also won the honor. Frank Robinson did it the last time the game was played in Detroit.

Before Tejada picked up a bat, he and Roberts had already made a difference in the game. With one on and no out in the top of the first, New York Mets outfielder Carlos Beltran smashed a grounder to the left side of second base. Tejada knocked it down, flipped to Roberts who tagged the bag, spun around and threw out the speedy Beltran at first.

That play set the tone for the American League, which is 8-0-1 in its past nine games while closing the National League's overall winning record in All- Star Games to 40-34-2.

Most important, with the win the AL earned World Series" home-field advantage for the second consecutive year.

For the sixth time in seven contests, the American League scored first. Leading off the second inning, Tejada crushed a 0-1 fastball from the Atlanta Braves" John Smoltz into the left-field seats for a 436-foot bases-empty homer.

It was the first time an Oriole had homered in the game since Ripken in 2001.

The AL scored twice more in the third on a single by the Boston Red Sox's David Ortiz and a RBI groundout by Tejada, who ended the game 1-for-3 with two groundouts.

In the top of the fourth, Tejada and Roberts snuffed out another potential NL rally.

With runners on first and second and no outs against the Minnesota Twins" Johan Santana, Chicago Cubs third baseman Aramis Ramirez hit a shot to Roberts who fed Tejada.

The quick throw from Tejada to first was a bit off-line, but he got a little help from another Baltimore-based player, Texas Rangers first baseman Mark Teixeira, a Mount St. Joseph graduate starting his first All- Star Game.

Teixeira came off the bag to snag the throw and then tagged Ramirez to complete the double play. The two teams combined to turn an All-Star Game-record five double plays. The three by the AL tied the record for one club.

In the bottom of the fourth inning, the AL added two more runs on the Seattle Mariners" Ichiro Suzuki's two-run single that scored Jason Varitek and Roberts, who had previously doubled down the right-field line. In his only other at-bat, Roberts flied to left.

Teixeira, the AL home run leader, joined the slugfest in the sixth inning with a two-run homer to right against the Florida Marlins" Dontrelle Willis that traveled 393 feet.

The National League scored its first runs on a two-homer by Atlanta's Andruw Jones. The homer to left came against Texas" beleaguered starter Kenny Rogers, who is appealing a 20-game suspension for assaulting a cameraman. Rogers was booed lustily by the crowd of 41,617 during pre-game introductions, as he was announced into the game in the seventh and when he walked off the field after the inning.

Orioles third baseman Melvin Mora entered the game in the fifth inning to join a Baltimore- based infield of Tejada, Roberts and Teixeira.

Mora struck out against the Houston Astros" Brad Lidge in his only at-bat.

Orioles closer B.J. Ryan entered in the ninth with one on and no outs and, as he took his warm-ups, a hard rain began falling.

It subsided enough for Ryan to pitch to Arizona pinch hitter Luis Gonzalez, who promptly doubled to left to cut the lead to 7-4. Ryan then induced two consecutive groundouts, the second one scoring Gonzalez with the fifth run.

The Yankees" Mariano Rivera relieved Ryan and struck out Houston's Morgan Ensberg on four pitches to preserve the game for the AL.

But it was the double-play combination of that upstart team in Baltimore that really led the way for the AL.

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