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AL triumphs after big start
07/14/2004 12:03 AM ET
HOUSTON -- This wasn't exactly what Houston fans had in mind when they envisioned Roger Clemens starting the 75th All-Star Game on Tuesday night at Minute Maid Park.

The crowd had barely calmed itself from the buzz created by the appearance of ceremonial first-pitch honoree Muhammad Ali when Clemens put the National League in a quick six-run hole, which led to a 9-4 American League win.

An Ivan Rodriguez RBI triple and two-run homer by Manny Ramirez gave the AL an immediate 3-0 lead. With two outs, Jason Giambi reached on a Jeff Kent error, and after Derek Jeter singled to left, game MVP Alfonso Soriano cleared the bases with a first-pitch homer to left field that gave the AL a six-run advantage.

Soriano finished 2-for-3 with three RBIs and one run scored.

"I felt a little sorry because he's been nice to me all of the time," Soriano said of Clemens, a teammate when both were with the Yankees last season. "But you know, I had to do my job in the game. I am sorry, but you know, I am happy right now."

As was everyone else in the AL clubhouse. National Leaguers were a little stunned.

"It goes to show you that on any given night, anything can happen," Mets All-Star lefty Tom Glavine said. "We're all human in this game. For Roger -- he's had such a storied career -- it hasn't happened much, if at all. I'm sure he'd tell you that if he was going to have a bad outing, I'm sure he would rather it be an All-Star Game rather than one in September in a pennant race."

Clemens was throwing on two days' rest, said Kent, but the hurler refused to use it as an excuse.

"It was a tough go of it," Clemens said. "I threw a couple of breaking balls and they hit them. Going in, (Anaheim's Vladimir) Guerrero was the guy I was worried about the most and he was the only guy I got out.