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Loretta a hit at All-Star Game
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07/14/2004  2:38 AM ET
Loretta a hit at All-Star Game
Padres second baseman delivers NL West's lone hit
tickets for any Major League Baseball game
Mark Loretta singles to right field during the sixth inning of the All-Star Game. (Tony Gutierrez/AP)
HOUSTON -- Mark Loretta made the most of his first All-Star appearance on Tuesday night.

The Padres second baseman and San Diego's only representative to the game, dumped a single to right field at Minute Maid Park on his second pitch of his first at bat -- a pinch-hit appearance for Jeff Kent against left-hander Ted Lilly with a runner on first and no one out in the bottom of the sixth inning.

"I was just trying to make contact," Loretta said after his National Leaguers dropped a 9-4 decision to the American League, their seventh defeat in a row, not including the tie at Milwaukee two years ago. "I was happy it fell in. It was a nice moment. Something I'll always look back on.

2004 All-Star Game

"I was lucky. Ed Montague, the home plate umpire, got the ball for me. So I'll keep it. I'll take it home and put in my trophy case."

That 2004 All-Star ball, with its multi-colored stitching, was nestled in the top shelf of Loretta's locker.

The 32-year-old Loretta made the NL team because he leads the Padres in hitting with a .323 batting average. More impressive still, his .473 slugging percentage is third among Padres regulars behind Phil Nevin and Brian Giles, who are both home run hitters. Loretta, who never hit more than seven homers in a season until last year (13 homers, 72 runs batted in), already has eight home runs coupled with 36 RBIs.

The All-Star single was more of his trademark. Tuesday night, he played the rest of the game and popped out to short against Angels right-hander Francisco Rodriguez with one out in the eighth inning.

But his top moment of the night came before the game, when he trotted out to the field in his Padres uniform in front of 41,886 partisan NL fans. Loretta, who grew up in Los Angeles, recalled being enthralled by the pregame introductions when he was a kid watching All-Star Games.

"Those were always my favorites when I grew up," Loretta said. "I was pretty emotional when I went out there to the first-base line. I waved to my family. They were in the top of the lower level above the first base (NL) dugout. That was a lot of fun. It was neat to be out there surrounded by so many great players. That was pretty impressive."

Barry M. Bloom is a national reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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