07/16/2003 12:17 AM ET
Cardinals hitters contribute for NL
By Matthew Leach / MLB.com
CHICAGO -- They are not exactly the Big Redbird Machine, but they held their own. And they had fun.
Edgar Renteria, Jim Edmonds and Albert Pujols became the first teammates to bat 1-2-3 in an All-Star Game since Cincinnati's Pete Rose, Joe Morgan and George Foster in 1978. Along with Scott Rolen, they took up practically half the playing surface at U.S. Cellular Field in the early going on Tuesday night.
And woe be to the hitter that they had seen before, because they were able to play defense in unison like they would during the regular season. Edmonds in center, Rolen at third base and Renteria at shortstop are all reigning Gold Glove winners. Pujols is getting better in left field.
"That's my whole side of the field," said Rolen, who started for the NL for the second straight year. "That's what I see every day. That's what's great about the situation. I look over, and Edgar's right there.
"Guys we played in Interleague, we're shifting the way we played them during the season. And I'm turning around, telling Albert 'one down,' telling Jimmy 'one out.' It's the exact same group that I look at every day. It's not like we had somebody in right field. It's my side of the field so I turn around and see it."
In the first inning, only Edmonds reached base, with a single against American League starter Esteban Loaiza. But by the time the four Cards were removed from the game, they had certainly made some contributions in a 7-6 loss to the AL.
The four Redbirds combined to go 3-for-9 with a run (scored by Rolen) and an RBI (tallied by Pujols). Only Renteria went hitless, with an 0-for-2 before giving way to Atlanta's Rafael Furcal in the fifth.
Edmonds was pulled immediately afterward -- also for a Brave, Andruw Jones. Rolen and Pujols were removed after the fifth-inning rally in which the NL pulled ahead, with Mike Lowell and Luis Gonzalez taking their places.
They just barely missed playing with teammate Woody Williams, who pitched in the fifth.
But all four position players got to take the field together, and the 1-2-3 guys were introduced in order and stood together on the first-base line.
"That was great," Rolen said. "Edgar, Jimmy and Albert, 1-2-3, you hear it announced, and people kind of (say), 'Whoa. That's pretty cool.' And it was cool. It was great to be on the field with everybody."
Renteria, typically a very aggressive hitter, worked a 3-2 count in his first at-bat in the unfamiliar role of leadoff man before grounding out to short. That brought up Edmonds. The slugger's single might have been a double under other circumstances, or against another right fielder. He poked a base hit down the line in right that squibbed into the corner, but Ichiro Suzuki's imposing throwing arm kept Edmonds at first. Pujols followed with a fly out to center.
Edmonds pointed more to the NL's cleanup man -- Barry Bonds -- than to Ichiro, but either way it was his priority not to be thrown out.
"I didn't want to make the mistake of getting thrown out when you've got Barry hitting fourth," Edmonds said. "I'd like to see Barry hit in that inning. So that was kind of what I was thinking. I had a chance maybe to run right there. But every time you've got a guy like Barry hitting and you get a hit in the first inning, you don't want to make a dumb out. You always want to get your big guys up early."
Pujols flied out to center and Bonds to right, however, and the game remained tied. Rolen, batting seventh, popped up to first baseman Carlos Delgado in the second.
Renteria struck out against Roger Clemens, who also recorded career K No. 4,000 against the St. Louis shortstop, in the third. Jamie Moyer whiffed Edmonds to lead off the fourth, but Pujols nearly made a dent against the venerable Seattle lefty. He sent a deep drive to right field and once again Ichiro was the man on the spot, making a splendid running, leaping catch to rob Pujols.
"When he hit the ball," Moyer said, "I thought, 'I don't know if he has a chance.' I really couldn't tell how the ball was carrying tonight. In BP, it seemed like some balls were taking off and some balls were dying. He hit it, and I thought, 'He may have a chance.'
"I've been here when balls in the gap sometimes take off toward center field. But he stayed with it. He has great speed, and he knows how to play the outfield. He made a great catch."
After Todd Helton's two-run homer in the fifth gave the NL a 2-1 lead, Rolen singled to right against Shigetoshi Hasegawa. Furcal singled him to second and Jones doubled him in. Pujols' single to left field scored Jones to cap the outburst.
Then the Fab Four got to sit and watch the rest of the game -- which didn't exactly unfold the way they hoped, but still was quite a spectacle.
"You play hard," Renteria said, "But you play to have fun. It was nice."
Matthew Leach is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to approval by Major League Baseball or its clubs.