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NL All-Star team stacked with Cards

NL All-Star team stacked with Cards

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A six-pack of St. Louis Cardinals, including three starters, were among the 31 players named to the National League team on Sunday for next week's All-Star Game at Comerica Park in Detroit.

St. Louis is the only NL team to have three starters -- third baseman Scott Rolen, shortstop David Eckstein and outfielder Jim Edmonds -- and more than four players on the team.

First baseman Albert Pujols, and pitchers Chris Carpenter and Jason Isringhausen also made the team, which will be led by Cardinals manager Tony La Russa.

The last time St. Louis had as many as six players on the All-Star team was 1959, when Stan Musial, Bill White, Hal Smith, Ken Boyer, Joe Cunningham and Wilmer Mizell represented the Cardinals in the first game. (Two All-Star Games were played that year.)

Pujols was edged out by Chicago's Derrek Lee for the starting nod in one of the closest position battles of the year. Lee trailed Pujols by approximately 59,000 votes entering the final days of the campaign, but a surge of online voting helped boost the Cubs' Triple Crown threat to an NL-leading 3,560,316 votes. Pujols finished with 3,455,017 votes. Lee also outpolled Pujols on the Player Ballot, 694 to 385. Lee led the NL with 3,277,475 online votes.

"If I get voted in, it's great," said Pujols before the final voting was released. "If I go home, it would be great, too. I think the first baseman, Derrek Lee, is having an outstanding year. He deserves it as much as I do. Hopefully, he's going to be there in our starting lineup."

The Cubs are also being represented by third baseman Aramis Ramirez, who finished second in the fan balloting to Rolen but made the team as a result of the Player Ballot, which he won, with 328 votes. Houston's Morgan Ensberg finished second, with 290 votes.

Only three of the elected NL starters from last season will start this year's All-Star Game, including second baseman Jeff Kent of the Dodgers, catcher Mike Piazza of the Mets and Rolen. Kent, who started the 75th All-Star Game at Minute Maid Park as a member of the Houston Astros, will be making his fifth All-Star appearance and fourth as a starter. He joins Joe Morgan, Ryne Sandberg and Craig Biggio as the only NL second basemen to start four or more All-Star Games.

Piazza will be making his 12th All-Star appearance and 11th start. The 11 starts is a record, passing Hall of Famer Johnny Bench and Detroit's Ivan Rodriguez, who each made 10. Piazza is the all-time leading vote-getter among catchers. The 1,966,074 votes he garnered this year boosted his career total to 25,347,300 all-time, moving him past Hall of Famer Cal Ripken Jr. (25,323,231) for the third-highest total in history. Piazza now trails only Cincinnati's Ken Griffey Jr. and Barry Bonds of San Francisco. Griffey finished seventh, with 1.4 million votes, to increase his record total to 39,014,684.

All-Star Game 2005

The Florida Marlins placed four players on the team -- catcher Paul Lo Duca, second baseman Luis Castillo, outfielder Miguel Cabrera and pitcher Dontrelle Willis. Willis and Lo Duca were Player Ballot winners at their respective positions, Castillo finished second behind Kent and Cabrera was runnerup to Philadelphia's Bobby Abreu. The Marlins tied Baltimore, Boston and Texas for the second most All-Stars, behind St. Louis.

The New York Mets will have two starters, as fan choice Piazza will be joined by first-time starter Carlos Beltran. Pitcher Pedro Martinez, third on the Player Ballot behind Willis and Houston's Roger Clemens, also made the club.

Abreu joins Beltran and Edmonds in the starting lineup, meaning that there are no returning National League outfield starters for the first time since 1980.

Abreu was the only Phillie to make the team, Jake Peavy of NL West-leading San Diego was the only Padre named to the squad and Arizona is being represented by outfielder Luis Gonzalez on the team.

Colorado closer Brian Fuentes, San Francisco outfielder Moises Alou and Los Angeles shortstop Cesar Izturis, who narrowly lost the shortstop vote to Eckstein, are the other NL West All-Stars.

"He's got impressive numbers, and it's a critical role if you've got a close game," said La Russa recently of Fuentes. "But the one thing about it is, every right-handed hitter and left-handed hitter in that game is going to be good against left and right. That's why they're stars."

Atlanta will be represented by outfielder Andruw Jones and pitcher John Smoltz, and the Washington Nationals saw two pitchers selected, Livan Hernandez and Chad Cordero.

The six-team NL Central, with 13 players, has more representatives on this year's roster than any other Senior Circuit division.

Joining the six Cardinals and two Cubs are Cincinnati shortstop Felipe Lopez, Houston pitchers Clemens and Brad Lidge, Milwaukee outfielder Carlos Lee and Pittsburgh outfielder Jason Bay.

San Diego's Ramon Hernandez finished second on the Player Ballot behind Lo Duca at catcher but did not make the team. Ensberg leads all Major League third basemen with 21 homers and ranks second with 58 RBIs, trailing only Alex Rodriguez of the New York Yankees (66). Though he was the second choice of the players, behind Ramirez, he finished seventh in the fan balloting and was left off the team.

"There's always more All-Star-type players than there are spots on the roster, so it's always a problem," said La Russa. "Just a lot of tough choices."

The 76th All-Star Game will be held at Comerica Park on July 12 at 8 p.m. ET. The game will be televised nationally by FOX Sports and televised around the world by Major League Baseball International. ESPN Radio will provide exclusive, national radio coverage, MLB.com will provide extensive online coverage and MLB Radio will provide exclusive play-by-play coverage of the game on the Internet.

Fans will have the opportunity to select the final position player for each league's 32-man roster at MLB.com. The Ameriquest 2005 All-Star Final Vote will provide fans the opportunity to cast their votes from a list of five players from each league over a three-day period.

There will be two ways for fans to vote for the 2005 All-Star Final Vote -- online at MLB.com or on-the-go from cell phones. Fans can simply text the word "VOTE" to 69652 (MYMLB) and be instantly registered to receive Final Vote ballots. Then, for just 99 cents a ballot, they'll have the freedom to vote from wherever they are. Fans can get the mobile ballot now.

The Ameriquest 2005 All-Star Final Vote will conclude on Wednesday, July 6, at 8 p.m. ET. The two winners will be announced on ESPN and MLB.com shortly thereafter.

Jim Molony is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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