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Anderson edges Pujols 9-8 in final of Home Run Derby

Tuesday, July 15, 2003

CHICAGO -- Garret Anderson was a winner at the All-Star Home Run Derby, just like he was at the World Series.

The Anaheim Angels' star edged the St. Louis Cardinals' Albert Pujols 9-8 Monday night to win the title.

"I don't think of myself as a home-run hitter, but it was another platform to show America what I can do," Anderson said.

Tino Martinez, then with the New York Yankees, was the only other player from a defending World Series champion to win the derby, accomplishing the feat in 1997 at Cleveland's Jacobs Field.

Some of the drama was lacking this year.

Barry Bonds and Sammy Sosa weren't among the eight players in the competition, which has become a highlight of the All-Star break.

And U.S. Cellular Field, which used to be known as Comiskey Park, is among the most boring ballparks in baseball, with no natural targets such as the warehouse at Baltimore's Camden Yards or the Green Monster at Boston's Fenway Park.

Still, the crowd of 47,819 rose to its feet as Pujols, batting last, came up with one strike left. He stepped out and lined a pitch off the left-field warning track.

A slow start for Pujols

Pujols started slowly, hitting just four homers in the first round, which tied for third with Jim Edmonds and Gary Sheffield, trailing defending champion Jason Giambi (12) and Anderson (seven). Pujols advanced over Sheffield because he has more regular-season homers, 27-22.

"That's a lot of swings. I was getting stiff between the rounds," Pujols said.

In the semifinals, Anderson beat Edmonds 6-4 and Pujols defeated Giambi 14-11, hitting the longest shot of the night -- a 478-foot drive. Pujols' total tied for the most in a derby round, a mark set by Giambi two years ago at Seattle.

After lining a ball into left field for his final out in the semifinals, Giambi walked over to Pujols, exchanged hand slaps, and the pair gave each other an extended hug.

Sheffield, Carlos Delgado (two), Richie Sexson (one) and Bret Boone (none) also were eliminated in the first round, with Boone becoming the first player not to hit any since Anaheim's Troy Glaus two years ago.

Sandy Alderson, executive vice president of baseball operations in the commissioner's office, said he presumed players would use regulation bats in the derby, but said there hadn't been any discussion about it with the competitors.

Earlier this year, Sosa was suspended for seven games after he used a corked bat during a game and it shattered. Sosa said he mistakenly used a bat that he has to provide shows for fans during batting practice.

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