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Loaiza keeps NL off the board
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07/14/2004 12:53 AM ET
Loaiza keeps NL off the board
Scoreless third inning protects five-run lead
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Esteban Loaiza will take on Mark Mulder on Sunday in a battle of All-Stars. (Brian Bahr/Getty Images)
HOUSTON -- The at-bat between White Sox starter Esteban Loaiza and Barry Bonds in the third inning of the 2004 All Star Game at Minute Maid Park ended in a familiar fashion for the San Francisco slugger this season -- a walk.

But Loaiza shouldn't feel bad. Bonds has walked 131 times this season and the Chicago right-hander contributed to the American League's 9-4 winning effort with a scoreless inning.

"It's one of those things that I didn't want to give up any runs, and I wanted to put zero on the board, but I also did not want to walk him," said Loaiza, the lone representative from the White Sox in this year's version of the Midsummer Classic. "But he was not swinging, and I just pitched around him."

"I didn't have that many butterflies today, but last year I had so many. I was able to treat [Tuesday's game] almost like a regular game."
-- Esteban Loaiza

With the American League leading, 6-1, after two innings, Loaiza replaced Oakland starter Mark Mulder to start the third and retired the first batter he faced, Cardinals shortstop Edgar Renteria, on a ground ball to Alex Rodriguez at third base. Loaiza needed only one pitch to retire Cardinals star Albert Pujols on a comeback ground ball to the mound.

Then he squared off against Bonds with the crowd waiting in anticipation for something big.

They didn't get it.

The right-hander threw two balls to start the at-bat before throwing a called strike. He fell behind 3-1 with another ball before walking him on the next pitch -- missing high and outside.

A chorus of boos followed, but the jeers didn't seem to faze Loaiza.

Or perhaps they did.

2004 All-Star Game

Not long after Bonds was given a free pass, St. Louis' Scott Rolen hit a sharp single on a 2-2 pitch past Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter to put two runners on for crosstown favorite Sammy Sosa.

But that's where the intracity drama ended.

The Cubs outfielder grounded out to Rangers second baseman and All-Star MVP Alfonso Soriano to end the inning. Loaiza walked off the mound after surrendering only one hit in one inning.

Loaiza's work for the evening was done, as he was replaced by Cleveland's C.C. Sabathia to start the bottom of the fourth inning after throwing 13 of his 21 total pitches for strikes.

"It's one of those things that you never know what is going to happen, but I am happy I got a ground ball from Sammy right there," Loaiza said. "This is what it's all about, having fun and playing baseball."

Having fun is something Loaiza would like to get back to.

As the starter in last year's All-Star Game at home in Chicago, Loaiza allowed one hit in two scoreless innings. He struck out one batter in what he considered a nerve-racking game.

He was 11-5 with a 2.21 ERA at the break last season on his way to finishing second in the 2003 Cy Young vote with a 21-9 record and a 2.90 ERA. By contrast, he is 8-4 with a 4.77 ERA at the break this season.

"I didn't have that many butterflies today, but last year I had so many," he said. "I was able to treat [Tuesday's game] almost like a regular game."

Jesse Sanchez is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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