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Braun bows out in Derby semifinals

Braun bows out in Derby semifinals

NEW YORK -- Ryan Braun reached the upper deck in left field on a handful of occasions during the State Farm Home Run Derby on Monday, though the impressive round the Brewers outfielder turned in was a mere afterthought by night's end.

Truthfully, Josh Hamilton's display of power at Yankee Stadium -- the Rangers slugger hit 28 home runs in the first round alone -- put everyone's round to shame, though Braun certainly accounted well for himself in his first Home Run Derby.

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After hitting seven home runs in the first round -- 21 fewer than Hamilton did during his prodigious first round -- Braun advanced to the second round, where he would hit seven more home runs to finish with 14.

Hamilton and Justin Morneau of the Minnesota Twins advanced to the finals, where Morneau eventually defeated Hamilton, though the fans likely had a different winner.

"The Home Run Derby is about the fans, putting on a show," Braun said. "Josh won in that category.

"It was unbelievable ... [and] probably one of the coolest things I've been able to do."

Braun had success early on with his agent Nez Balelo serving up several belt-high pitches that the Brewers slugger mashed in the first round. That was before Hamilton delighted the crowd with his record-setting performance.

"Josh Hamilton is on a different level," Braun said. "He's one of the most gifted players. I was exhausted, and I only hit 14. He hit 70."

As for Braun, the decision to have Balelo pitch to him was easy, though his agent, a former Mariners Minor Leaguer, wasn't his first choice.

"I thought he threw the ball very well," Braun said.

Braun said Monday his first preference was Brewers infield coach Dale Sveum, who is spending the All-Star break on vacation with his family. Balelo was not only a fill-in, though.

"He's thrown to me in the offseason the past four or five years," Braun said of Balelo, who first started pitching to Braun at a baseball development camp in Los Angeles. "I'm just real comfortable hitting against him.

"There's just a comfort zone. I've seen his arm angle and he knows where I like the ball. And if I got here [without a designated pitcher], I would have no idea who I'd get or what to expect or what I was getting myself into."

The right-handed-hitting Braun didn't look like he would get far Monday, recording outs on his first six attempts before getting hot in a ballpark that typically favors left-handed hitters.

"I thought I performed well, especially as a right-handed hitter," Braun said. "I was surprised I reached the upper deck."

Corey Brock 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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