Braves' McCann says Manuel inspired him

Braves catcher Brian McCann celebrates with his mother, Sherry, after winning the MVP award at the All-Star Game. McCann smacked a three-run double.
Braves catcher Brian McCann celebrates with his mother, Sherry, after winning the MVP award at the All-Star Game. McCann smacked a three-run double.
Posted: July 15, 2010

ANAHEIM, Calif. - Charlie Manuel said he spoke to the National League team before Tuesday's All-Star Game to stress the importance of home-field advantage in the World Series. Whether Manuel's Phillies capture the pennant for a third straight season or not, one club will benefit from the NL's triumph.

But this was, after all, still an exhibition game.

"I don't know if they heard me or not," Manuel said.

Apparently Brian McCann did. The Atlanta catcher came up with the biggest hit of the 81st All-Star Game, a three-run double in the seventh inning. The NL won, 3-1.

"It was awesome," McCann said of Manuel's pregame pep talk. "He's the best. He's a great manager. I'm fortunate to play against him all the time. He's a great hitting guy, so I like to talk to him."

Coincidentally, it was a chief rival of the Phillies, plus two former Phils, who secured victory for the NL - the first time that happened since 1996.

With one out, Scott Rolen (who was booed by Phillies fans last weekend when the Reds were in Philadelphia), singled up the middle off Yankees pitcher Phil Hughes. St. Louis' Matt Holliday followed with another single to center. Rolen astutely took third as Torii Hunter was slow to field the ball.

"I was going to try and make him throw me out," Rolen said.

Manuel was quick to praise the play following the game.

"Rolen is a good player," Manuel said. "He's a tremendous base runner. People don't say a whole lot about him anymore, but he's a solid player."

Arizona's Chris Young popped out for the second out, leaving Chicago's Marlon Byrd to extend the inning. After trailing in the count, the former Phillie worked it to 3-2 and drew a walk to load the bases for McCann.

Manuel turned to his two assistant coaches in the dugout - San Francisco's Bruce Bochy and San Diego's Bud Black - and said he had a good feeling about McCann vs. White Sox reliever Matt Thornton.

"I said 'I hope he keeps the ball down and hard, because this guy can light him up,' " Manuel said. "He threw him a low fastball and [McCann] clocked him."

And why did he know McCann would come through?

"He absolutely kills us," Manuel said, playing the part of Phillies manager for a moment.

Byrd, whom the Phillies traded to Washington for Endy Chavez in 2005, prevented any drama in the ninth with a fine defensive play.

Boston slugger David Ortiz led off the inning with a single off Dodgers closer Jonathan Broxton. After Adrian Beltre struck out, John Buck hit a blooper to short right that fell in. Ortiz, who was halfway between first and second base, waiting to see if the ball could be caught, was forced out at second by Byrd.

Rolen said those were the kind of plays the all-stars needed to win the game.

"We didn't think it would be a 12-10 game," he said.

Pitching ruled. (The shadows resulting from an unusual 5:49 p.m. start time on the West Coast helped, too.) The lone American League run was unearned. The AL managed six hits, the team's fewest since 1999.

McCann could have clinched home-field advantage for the Braves, who stand in first place in the NL East. But if the Phillies make a run in the second half and somehow end up winning another pennant, they will have the home-field edge thanks to contributions from castoffs and enemies.

"You know, in baseball, all good things have to come to an end," Manuel said. "Tonight, evidently, was our night."


Contact staff writer Matt Gelb at 215-854-2928 or mgelb@phillynews.com. Follow on Twitter at www.twitter.com/magelb.

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