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Dye puts on good show in first round

Dye puts on good show in first round

PITTSBURGH -- Give Jermaine Dye something real, say a World Series or the ninth inning of a key contest, and watch him go deep. He's not bad in a staged contest, either.

Dye launched seven home runs in the first round of the CENTURY 21 Home Run Derby on Monday night at PNC Park. He was in good shape to advance to the second round, but the last of the eight participants, the Phillies' Ryan Howard, parked eight to edge Dye.

On Sunday, Dye hit a ninth-inning, two-out homer off the Red Sox's Jonathan Paplebon, to send the game into extra innings and wound up stretching to catch the final out of the 19th inning of the White Sox 6-5 victory. It was his 25th homer of this season.

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Last year, Dye hit a home run and batted .438 to earn Most Valuable Player honors as the White Sox swept the Astros in the World Series.

None of those pressure situations prepared him for Monday, however.

"It doesn't get any more pressure than that," said Dye, who concentrated on hitting to the deepest part of the park, center field, just to avoid bad swing habits. "It's a lot easier to play a game than to do that."

Teammate A.J. Pierzynski, also representing the White Sox at the All-Star Game, joked that Dye played so much on Sunday that he couldn't hit any more homers than he did.

"A.J. was saying, 'I told you that you are not going to make it -- you are too tired from the 19-inning game,' " Dye said. "Everybody had fun. Everybody joked around."

The Marlins' Miguel Cabrera was the first to put up a big total, when he blasted nine. The Mets' David Wright hit 16 before Dye stepped up with his power display. However, following Dye, the Red Sox's David Ortiz showed his strength by sending 10 over the wall.

It appeared Dye was a shoo-in for Round 2 when Howard didn't homer on any of his first four swings and had four homers with one "out" to go. An "out" is a swing that's not a homer, and each contestant was limited to 10 of those. Howard hit three in a row to tie Dye, then passed him with his eighth homer on his 17th swing.

Dye's pre-contest statement that left-handed hitters had an advantage turned prophetic. Howard surpassed him on a shot that barely cleared the right-field wall.

"I thought I had a good shot," Dye said. "With that short porch, he hit that last one that was barely over. In a normal ballpark, it might not have gone out. But this ballpark is good for left-hander.

"I wish I would have known what I actually had to shoot for. If I would have looked at the scoreboard before I got in the box, I would have realized that I would be OK if I at least got to nine. It was a good time, and it's something I'm never going to forget."

In addition to Dye, the Orioles' Miguel Tejada (three homers), the Astros' Lance Berkman (three) and the Blue Jays' Troy Glaus (one) did not advance to the second round.

The real reason Dye is here is to play in his second All-Star Game. He went 1-for-2 and scored a run while representing the Royals in the 2000 Midsummer Classic.

"It's going to be fun," Dye said. "It's going to be in an environment we're used to being in. I can't wait for it."

Thomas Harding is a reporter for MLB.com. Scott Merkin, a reporter for MLB.com, contributed to this report. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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