For Ripken, homer off Martinez is nothing to brag about


TORONTO -- What's one pitch between friends?

Last night at the SkyDome, it proved to be not only worth an All-Star Game MVP award but a loss as well.

It was one pitch --a hanging breaking ball thrown by Montreal's Dennis Martinez to former Baltimore teammate Cal Ripken Jr. -- that swayed the outcome of the 62nd All-Star Game. Ripken's three-run homer to deep centerfield erased a one-run deficit and propelled the American League to a 4-2 victory.

"You just can't make a mistake with him," said Martinez, an Orioles teammate of Ripken's for six years.

Ripken, who entered the game with triple crown-caliber numbers of .348, 18 homers and 54 RBI and had personally outslugged the four-man National League team in Monday's home-run contest, said there is one mistake he won't make. He won't tease Martinez about the game-winning homer.

BTC "No, he doesn't kid me when he strikes me out, so I won't do that,"Ripken said. "We're good friends, but we don't talk about baseball. I hope it stays that way."

Martinez said, "He knows I don't take teasing well. I give him credit for what he did. I know the people of Nicaragua [Martinez's homeland] will be disappointed, but somebody has to lose. It just happened to be me."

And Martinez felt no shame in losing to a man as dangerous as Ripken has been this season.

"I'm impressed with what he's done but I know the caliber of player he can be," Martinez said. "I finally think he's peaking. I'm happy for him."

Ripken, too, is pleased with the year he's having, though he cautioned he still has a second half to get through.

"But it seems like the last two days, everything was going right," Ripken said. "That starts to make it feel like it's your year."

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