CINCINNATI » Four pitches into the game, Zack Greinke left one a little bit up. At Great American Ball Park, it’s bad for a pitcher to be off, even by a very little.
The National League’s impressive pitching staff was a little off on Tuesday night starting with Greinke, giving the American League the small opening it needed to pull away for a 6-3 win in the All-Star Game.
Mike Trout opened the game with a solo homer, an opposite-field shot that landed in the first row in right field and reminded the NL of what happens when a pitch is left up in the hitter-friendly ballpark.
"It’s not easy," Greinke said. "You’ve got like a 2-inch window up in the (strike) zone. If you throw it higher than that, he takes it. If you throw it lower, he does what he did. I was trying to go a couple inches higher and I just missed my spot a little bit."
He wasn’t the only one.
Prince Fielder drove in a pair of runs with a single and a sacrifice fly, and Brian Dozier hit the last of the game’s three solo homers — yes, Great American played to its reputation. The AL had seven hits as it pulled away to its 14th win in the last 18 years.
Greinke was manager Bruce Bochy’s choice to start based upon his 1.39 ERA, best in the majors. He hadn’t given up a run in his last five starts, going a career-high 35 2/3 innings without allowing a run.
The streak is intact because the All-Star Game doesn’t count toward season statistics. He wished he could have been perfect on Tuesday, too, in a game that decides home-field advantage for the World Series.
"I’d rather it have continued because this game is probably more important than the normal regular-season games, for the most part," he said.
Clayton Kershaw also struggled, giving up a pair of runs and three hits in the fifth inning highlighted by Fielder’s tiebreaking single.
"It was fun, except for giving up the runs," Kershaw said. "I felt fine. I wasn’t really throwing the ball where I wanted to."
It wasn’t all bad, though. Reds closer Aroldis Chapman pitched the ninth and had the AL hitters shaking their heads on the bench as he hit triple-digits a dozen times, topping out at 103 mph as he struck out the side.