AL takes loss, but Weaver provides strong start
Reliever Walden allows run in fifth; Kendrick grounds out
PHOENIX -- Appearing loose and smiling freely about 90 minutes before his Major League All-Star Game debut as the American League's starting pitcher, Jered Weaver was asked how he felt.
"Too soon to tell," he said, grinning.
When Weaver, the Angels' ace, surfaced on the Chase Field mound in the bottom of the first on Tuesday night, he couldn't have looked any calmer back in the day when he was playing catch with big brother Jeff in their backyard in Simi Valley, Calif.
He threw 14 pitches, eight in the strike zone, dismissing the National League in his one inning of work. The game got away from the AL, absorbing a 5-1 loss, but it was more about the experience than the outcome for Weaver.
Selected to his first All-Star team in 2010, he wasn't able to pitch at Angel Stadium because of the rule rendering ineligible pitchers who started on the Sunday before the game.
In front of his parents, fiancée, brother and other family members, Weaver made the occasion memorable after getting the starting nod from Texas and AL manager Ron Washington.
"It was awesome," Weaver said. "First and foremost, I want to thank Ron for giving me the opportunity. I was amped -- a little nervous warming up. When Rickie [Weeks] walked up to the plate, it kind of set in. `Hey, I'm here, in the All-Star Game.'"
The AL once dominated this game, but the NL now owns back-to-back wins and home-field advantage in the World Series for its eventual pennant winner.
"Obviously, we wanted to win that game," Weaver said. "We saw the last two years what home-field advantage means in the World Series. Hopefully, we get there and start out on the road."
A month ago, such a statement might have been laughable. But the Angels ended the first half on a roll, and with Weaver and Dan Haren fronting a strong rotation and the offense suddenly making noise, a busy October is not out of the question.
Matched against the great Roy Halladay, Weaver allowed a two-out walk to the Dodgers' Matt Kemp before retiring Prince Fielder on a soft liner to end the first. Three innings later, All-Star MVP Fielder would go deep on Texas' C.J. Wilson for three decisive runs.
Not as fortunate as Weaver in his All-Star Game debut was Angels closer Jordan Walden, who coughed up one of the NL runs.
Entering in the fifth with the NL leading, 3-1, Walden served a leadoff single to the Rockies' Troy Tulowitzki and a two-out, two-strike RBI single to the Dodgers' Andre Ethier.
Starlin Castro, who pinch-ran for Tulowitzki, stole second and third before Walden cut him down at home on a slow roller by Weeks.
"Jordan showed us some athleticism there we didn't know he had," Weaver said, grinning.
Weeks stole second and scored when Ethier won his L.A. duel with Walden, lashing a two-strike fastball to right center. Walden had struck out Scott Rolen for the first out in the inning.
"Unbelievable," Walden said of his All-Star experience. "It blew me away. Last year I'm in the Double-A All-Star Game, and here I am in the Major League All-Star Game. How crazy is that?"
Pumped to the max, Walden was consistently in the high 90s, hitting 100 several times on the radar gun.
Angels second baseman Howard Kendrick entered the game along with Walden.
Kendrick's first All-Star Game at-bat in the city he now calls home provided an opportunity for a memorable moment. But Braves right-hander Craig Kimbrel, with his high-90s heat, induced Kendrick to ground out to second to leave two aboard to end the seventh.
"I've never seen him before," Kendrick said. "He's got a live fastball and a good breaking ball. Once I got to two strikes, I was going to protect. He made a good pitch, a fastball, and got me out.
"I was hoping to get another at-bat in the ninth, but it didn't happen. It was a lot of fun just to get in the game and play a few innings. Just a great experience for me and my family."
Weaver, quickly ahead in the count, had retired leadoff man Weeks on a roller to first baseman Adrian Gonzalez. Carlos Beltran swung through a third strike on an offspeed pitch high in the strike zone.
Before the game, Weaver had joked about how Beltran had torched him in 2008 when the Angels entertained the Mets in Interleague Play at Angel Stadium. Beltran homered to center in his first two at-bats before Weaver finally retired him.
This time he put a third strike past Beltran, a changeup high in the zone landing in the glove of catcher Alex Avila.
"I got away with a bad changeup that kind of floated up there," Weaver said. "Maybe it fooled him. I'll take it."
Weaver now goes back to work for the Angels, preparing to face the Athletics in Saturday's doubleheader in Oakland. In his previous nine outings, he held opponents to a 1.27 ERA while going 5-0, pushing his record to 11-4. His 1.86 first-half ERA leads the Majors.
"Maybe I'm the bad link here," Weaver said, grinning. "The American League used to always win this game. I'm here for the last two, and we lose."
Lyle Spencer is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.