By Ronald Blum
The Associated Press
CHICAGO - Another big event, another win for the Anaheim Angels. Garret Anderson was a surprise winner at the All-Star Home Run Derby, just as he was at the World Series, edging the St. Louis Cardinals' Albert Pujols 9-8 Monday night to win the title for the first time.
"I don't look at myself as a home-run hitter, but I know I'm capable of hitting some balls out of the park, and it's just another platform to go out and show America what I can do," Anderson said.
Tino Martinez, then with the New York Yankees, was the only other player from a defending World Series champion to win the derby, accomplishing the feat in 1997 at Cleveland's Jacobs Field.
Some of the drama was lacking this year.
Barry Bonds and Sammy Sosa weren't among the eight players in the competition, which has become a highlight of the All-Star break.
And U.S. Cellular Field, which used to be known as Comiskey Park, is among the most boring ballparks in baseball, with no natural targets such as the warehouse at Baltimore's Camden Yards or the Green Monster at Boston's Fenway Park.
Still, the crowd of 47,819 rose to its feet as Pujols, batting last, came up with one strike left. He stepped out and lined a pitch from Cubs bullpen catcher Benny Cadahia off the left-field warning track.
Pujols, the 2001 NL Rookie of the Year, started slowly. He hit just four homers in the first round, which tied him for third with Jim Edmonds and Gary Sheffield, and trailing defending champion Jason Giambi (12) and Anderson (seven). Pujols advanced to the final four over Sheffield because he has more regular-season homers, 27-22.
"That's a lot of swings. I was getting stiff between the rounds," said Pujols, who leads the majors with a .368 average.
Anderson hit five in a row off Dave Valle in the finals, one shy of streaks by Pujols and Giambi.
In the semis, Anderson beat Edmonds 6-4 and Pujols defeated Giambi 14-11, hitting the longest shot of the night - a 478-foot drive.
Pujols' total tied for the most in a derby round, a mark set by Giambi two years ago at Seattle, and his 26 on the night tied the record Sosa set in 2000.
Giambi, down to his last two outs in the semis, hit seven more homers to make it close as fans pulled for him to slug his way into the final.
"You get the adrenaline flowing when you start hearing them, when you put a few together, and it gets exciting," Giambi said.
Anderson, whose three-run double off San Francisco's Livan Hernandez put Anaheim ahead 4-1 in Game 7 of last year's Series, said he wasn't capable of "tape-measure shots, like Sammy and Jason and Albert."
"They were putting on tremendous shows," Anderson said. "I kind of liken myself to Rafael Palmeiro, a guy that hit a lot of home runs but doesn't hit the ball 500 feet every time he does it."
Anderson, hitting .316 with 22 homers and 78 RBIs this season, is making just his second All-Star appearance this year. His career home-run high is 35, set in 2000.
"That swing that I was using tonight is not a swing that I try to use during the season," he said. "It was just strictly for trying to hit balls over the fence."
After lining a ball into left field for his final out in the semifinals, Giambi walked over to Pujols, exchanged hand slaps, and the pair gave each other an extended hug.
Sheffield, Carlos Delgado (two), Richie Sexson (one) and Bret Boone (none) also were eliminated in the first round, with Boone becoming the first player not to hit any since Anaheim's Troy Glaus two years ago.
Johnny Hasick of Cairo, Ga., won $250,000 from Century 21 toward the purchase of a home. ... Sandy Alderson, executive vice president of baseball operations in the commissioner's office, said he presumed players would use regulation bats in the derby, but said there hadn't been any discussion about it with the competitors. Earlier this year, Sosa was suspended for seven games after he used a corked bat during a game and it shattered. Sosa said he mistakenly used a bat that he has to provide shows for fans during batting practice.
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