Cabrera, Lowell, Pavano see action; Benitez rested
By Joe Frisaro / MLB.com
Carl Pavano was the only NL pitcher to log two innings on Tuesday. (Brian Bahr/Getty Images)
HOUSTON -- Just because Mike Lowell didn't get a hit in Tuesday's All-Star Game didn't mean the Marlins third baseman left Minute Maid Park empty-handed.
Like the rest of the stars, Lowell was given a gift by special guest Muhammad Ali, who took part in the pregame ceremony.
"The Greatest" autographed pictures for both teams.
And while the National League stars didn't put up much of a fight in Tuesday's 9-4 loss to the American League, Lowell said Ali still can sting like a bee.
"Sean Casey, the nicest guy in the world, goes up to him, and Ali starts throwing punches," Lowell said.
Even in defeat, Lowell maintains there are no losers at the All-Star Game.
By winning, the American League locked up home-field advantage in the World Series. Lowell favors the format, but recognizes the All-Star Game is an exhibition and celebration of the game.
"I don't mind," Lowell said. "I really don't mind it. I don't think it has a basis on who wins the World Series. If the National League team is playing better, they are going to win the World Series, I don't care. I'm not opposed to it. If the TV people like it, and MLB likes it because it helps out ratings, fine. I'm more excited about the guy winning $1 million than the outcome. Well, I did care because, 'This one counts.' "
Lowell's reference was to Astros' long-time season-ticket holder, Tom Gray, who won Taco Bell's $1 million All-Star Game "Ring The Bell" promotion before the game.
Mike Lowell / 3B
Weight: 210 lbs
Bats: R / Throws: R
For the first time in franchise history, the Marlins placed four in the All-Star Game. Outfielder Miguel Cabrera went hitless in two at-bats and Carl Pavano pitched two innings, giving up a two-run homer to Boston's David Ortiz in the sixth.
Closer Armando Benitez, who threw three innings in two games last weekend against the Mets, didn't pitch.
"I still had fun," Lowell said. "You can strike out three times in an All-Star Game, and you're not going to see me throw a helmet in this."
The emotional Lowell stopped short of flinging his bat toward the dugout on his fly out to right field. Instead, he mildly flipped the bat.
"That's normal," Lowell said. "That's like being calm. Sure, guys would have liked to win."
Pavano shared Lowell's perspective.
The right-hander was the only National League pitcher to toss two innings. He gave up three hits and struck out one.
Even though Ortiz crushed an 86 mph slider 423 feet on a 2-2 count, Pavano wasn't overly worked up.
"Slider, just right there," Pavano said. "It was down, but it got a lot of plate, and he took advantage of it."
Pavano, who was drafted by the Red Sox, laughed at his lack of success against his former organization. Last June, Pavano was the starter in a forgetful night when Boston rolled to a 25-8 victory at Fenway Park.
Boston scored 14 runs in the first inning, including 10 without an out. Pavano was lifted in that game without recording an out. The flashback of last June had the right-hander poke fun at himself.
"I think he is 2-for-2 off me," Pavano said of Ortiz. "I only faced him twice. Once in that game in Boston, that stellar game, when I got all those outs. And now here. So he basically owns me. I think he hit a double down the right-field line [last year]. But everyone hit a double off me. Afterwards, I was thinking, 'I can't get this guy out. When did I face him? Oh, that explains it.' "
For Cabrera, just mingling with the other stars, and getting the opportunity to play was a highlight.
"It was awesome," said the 21-year-old, who chatted beforehand with his former teammate, Tigers catcher Ivan Rodriguez. "I got good experience here. I'm happy. The most fun was just being in the game. That's the most for me, just playing in the game."
Joe Frisaro is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.