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'Run hog' Mulder gets win for AL
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07/14/2004 12:22 AM ET
'Run hog' Mulder gets win for AL
Staked to 6-0 lead before entering game
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Mark Mulder works two innings, giving up one run on two hits. (Pat Sullivan/AP)
HOUSTON -- Mark Mulder was brilliant for most of the first half of the season, but he'd be the first to admit that his shiny 12-2 record was made possible in part by an Oakland offense that always seemed to pick him up on the rare occasion that he struggled.

His last start of the half provided a perfect example: Mulder gave up six runs over 6 1/3 innings, but he picked up the win because the A's scored 16. Going into the All-Star break, Mulder ranked fifth in the American League with 7.45 runs of support per nine innings.

"I've been fortunate, I'm not going to lie," he said that day. "I must be living right or doing something right."

Whatever it is, it bled right into the break. Mulder started for the AL in the 75th All-Star Game at Houston's Minute Maid Park on Tuesday, and before he even toed the rubber, he was holding a 6-0 lead.

Ichiro Suzuki opened the game with a double off hometown hero Roger Clemens, Pudge Rodriguez followed with a triple, Clemens' Astros teammate Jeff Kent made a costly error, and Manny Ramirez and Alfonso Soriano each homered to give Mulder the early edge.

The lead held up, the AL prevailed 9-4, and Mulder got the win.

2004 All-Star Game

"It actually helped me to relax," he said of the big cushion. "It took some of the nerves away."

Oakland's other All-Star, injured right-hander Tim Hudson, jokingly called Mulder a "run hog" earlier this season, so he was far from surprised when he saw the AL team follow the A's lead.

"Some things never change, even in the All-Star Game," Hudson said. "I need to get me some of whatever magic he's got working."

Hudson, who leads the AL with a 2.98 ERA but is only 7-3 thanks to four blown saves by the A's bullpen and only 4.2 runs of support per game, isn't shy about reminding Mulder of his luck.

"Oh, Huddy's been all over me about it for a while," Mulder said. "And when we got the six runs, he was like, 'That's odd -- shocker that you'd get a bunch of runs.' But hey, I'll take it."

Mulder, a two-time All-Star whose 3.21 ERA in 2004 is tied for fourth in the AL, allowed a run on two hits in the first inning -- Sammy Sosa's bat shattered on his bloop RBI single to right with two out -- before cruising through the second inning on nine pitches.

"We didn't change the game plan or anything," said Rodriguez, the AL's starting catcher. "Mulder was great. He kept the ball down and threw strikes, just like he always does."

Along the way, Mulder retired Barry Bonds on a routine fly ball to center field, which pleased him nearly as much as getting the win. When AL reliever Esteban Loaiza walked Bonds later in the game, the sellout crowd showered him with boos.

"I just didn't want to walk Bonds," Mulder said. "So everything was good tonight."

Mychael Urban is a national writer for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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