07/14/10 1:36 AM ET
Rolen sets tone for NL's winning rally
First-place Reds hope victory benefits them down line
By Chris Haft / MLB.com
Moreover, the outcome gave home-field advantage in the World Series to the NL, which bore considerable significance for the Central-leading Reds."This means a lot to the Cincinnati Reds organization because we're in first place and we're doing our best to be a playoff team," said first baseman Joey Votto, who made solid contact but went 0-for-2 in the substitute designated hitter's role. Votto's initial at-bat, a first-pitch groundout to second base, opened the seventh against New York Yankees right-hander Phil Hughes. Then Rolen rapped his hit to center field on Hughes' 2-2 pitch. The rally accelerated along with Rolen as he dashed from first base to third on Matt Holliday's single up the middle. It was a somewhat daring move by Rolen, because he challenged the throwing arm of Angels center fielder Torii Hunter, a nine-time Gold Glove winner. Hunter's one-hop throw darted slightly wide as Rolen plowed into the base with a headfirst slide. Asked what was he was thinking as he approached second base and decided to head for third, Rolen cited an adaptation of the now-familiar All-Star slogan. "This one counts," he said, prompting chuckles from reporters. The oft-injured Rolen added that he wasn't concerned about aggravating any of his previous ailments by going full-bore in what many consider to be a glamorized exhibition game. "I'm competing," said Rolen, who's 3-for-8 lifetime in All-Star activity. In came Chicago White Sox left-hander Matt Thornton, who ultimately yielded Brian McCann's three-run double. With runners on first and second, Cincinnati's Brandon Phillips had a chance to pad the NL's lead but struck out to end the inning against Oakland right-hander Andrew Bailey. Phillips did record two putouts and an assist while playing a deft second base for the final four innings. "I had a blast," said Phillips, who, like Votto and left-hander Arthur Rhodes, made their first All-Star trip. "I wish it wasn't over, but now we have to get back to real work." Though Rhodes was the sole Reds player not to see action, he thoroughly relished his All-Star experience. "It's amazing. It's awesome. I'm just enjoying it all," Rhodes said. "Now that I've seen what goes on, I'm looking forward to next year and making the All-Star team again."
Chris Haft is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.