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Loaiza flying solo at All-Star Game
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07/12/2004  6:54 PM ET
Loaiza flying solo at All-Star Game
Righty expected to be third AL pitcher Tuesday
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Esteban Loaiza is 8-4 with a 4.77 ERA at the break this season. (Ann Heisenfelt/AP)
HOUSTON -- Esteban Loaiza looked around him Monday and wondered where all the White Sox All-Stars were.

"I know. I'm just solo this year," he smiled. "It's just one of those things. There should've been a lot more ballplayers here, but that's not our choice. We don't pick 'em."

Thus, he's the only representative from a White Sox team that surged into the AL Central lead just in time for the All-Star break. It's a vast difference from last year's game at U.S. Cellular Field, where Loaiza was the American League starting pitcher and one of three White Sox to make the team.

That Chicago team came into last year's break looking for momentum. This year's version has it in abundance with a four-game winning streak, thanks in no small part to a powerful lineup. The White Sox rank third in the American League in both home runs and slugging percentage, and their streak started with a dramatic 9-8 comeback victory over the Angels last Thursday.

Loaiza, however, continues to set a tone for this team on the mound. A year after becoming the first White Sox pitcher in a decade to win 20 games, his eight victories are second on the team and earned him selection from AL manager Joe Torre.

He wishes he had the same momentum entering the break as his team, having struggled with one victory in his last six starts and having started that comeback victory Thursday, but he kept the White Sox in enough other games of a lower-scoring variety in the first half to wait out the offense.

2004 All-Star Game

"Right now, I have eight wins," he said. "I know my ERA's high and everything, but I'm here. I'm an All- Star back-to-back."

He won't start this time around, but he has a pretty good idea when he'll be pitching. Torre told him he'll likely follow former Rangers teammate Kenny Rogers as the second reliever in the game once starter Mark Mulder leaves. He'll pitch either one or two innings depending on the course of the game, hoping to duplicate his two scoreless innings from last year.

It's not the glamour of the starting nod, but it's not the stress, either.

"That was really big for me, starting in my own town," Loaiza said of last year's outing. "It was a great thing for me. Now, I'm here and I think I'm going to be throwing loose [Wednesday] for one or two innings and see what happens."

Since he'll be going on his regular rest, his arm shouldn't be a problem.

"It's my fifth day [since starting]," he said. "I can go an inning or two and have five days off again. This is an All-Star Game, and whether it's one hitter or two innings, I just want to go out there for whatever [Torre] gives me."

Jason Beck 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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