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CLE@ARI: Upton crushes a solo shot to left-center

PHOENIX -- Justin Upton continued to make a case for his inclusion on the National League All-Star team on Wednesday with a solo homer in the D-backs' 6-2 loss to the Indians at Chase Field.

Upton's homer, his 13th, came in the fourth inning. Stephen Drew added his fifth to lead off the sixth. Upton, 23, is beginning to show all the signs of greatness that were bestowed upon him when he came up to the Majors in 2007.

"The sky's the limit. He's a heck of a player," said Zach Duke, the D-backs' starter and loser who is just getting his first glimpse of Upton up close this season. "He hits the ball just about as hard as anybody. He concentrates on each at bat. He's improving in the field, as well, so he is a special player."

Both homers came off Cleveland starter Carlos Carrasco, who allowed only two other hits in his seven innings of work. Gerardo Parra had them both, a fifth-inning single and a seventh-inning double.

The D-backs lost two-of-three games to Cleveland during this brief homestand, their last prior to the All-Star break. They now set off on a 10-game road trip to Oakland, Milwaukee and St. Louis.

The D-backs host the Mid-Summer Classic on July 12, plus all its concurrent events and activities. The NL and American League squads will be announced on Sunday, with voting for the starting position players via concluding on Thursday at 11:59 p.m. ET.

Upton, an All-Star reserve in 2009, would have to make it in the same fashion, since he's currently 13th among candidates for the three starting NL outfield positions with 1,141,296 votes. Each of the 30 teams must have at least one representative. Giants skipper Bruce Bochy, who is the NL manager, has nine slots to fill. Considering the circumstances, it would only be fitting if Upton is one of them.

Manager Kirk Gibson, who has been reluctant to endorse any of his players, acknowledged that Upton belongs in the game "along with a few other guys."

Indians manager Manny Acta added that Upton has all kinds of upside.

"He's got a chance to become one of the top players in the National League," Acta said. "He's one of those guys I enjoy seeing in Interleague Play. This time of year, you're able to get a good look at players that, in any other situation, you wouldn't be able to see."

Drew said Upton should be chosen along with starter Ian Kennedy, who has put up stellar numbers. He's 8-2 with a 3.01 ERA in 17 starts. But the NL is loaded with viable pitching candidates.

"Without a doubt, Justin should be on the team," Drew said. "He's played very well for us. He and Kennedy should be in there. I'd like to see both of them there. It's just a matter of getting the votes and everything else."

Upton leads the D-backs with a .304 batting average and 43 RBIs. His 13 homers are second on the club to Chris Young, who has 15. Before the game, it was noted to Upton that, although he's the leading hitter on the team, he's ahead of starter Daniel Hudson by a slim percentage point. Hudson is hitting .303.

"And he has the next five days off, while I have to play every day," Upton said with a laugh.

But the offense generated by Upton and Drew was not enough on Wednesday against Carrasco, who struck out seven and walked none, increasing his record to 8-4.

Duke, making his seventh start for the D-backs, continued to struggle, allowing four runs on nine hits in his five innings of work. He's now 1-3 with a 5.92 ERA since returning from a broken left hand, an injury he sustained when he was hit by a line drive during Spring Training.

Gibson said his team didn't perform well in the wake of Wily Mo Pena's walk-off, pinch-hit, two-run homer on Tuesday night.

"I think we all feel like we could've played better today," he said.

But about Upton, he waxed eloquently.

"He's very talented," Gibson said. "He struggled the first half of this first half, but he stuck with it. He's had some good guidance. He's taken that direction and done it by himself. He's a very good teammate, and his game is very consistent now. He has great ability. No question about it. If he can keep this going, he'll be very impressive when his career is all said and done.

"I'm sure happy to have him on our team. He's a huge piece for us, as far as our future success is concerned." Comments