Cook delivers gutsy, memorable effort
Righty tosses three scoreless innings; Holliday goes deep
NEW YORK -- Dan Uggla looked as if he was in need of a hug. But Aaron Cook tapped him on the rear with his glove, as if to say he'd help him escape his predicament. No big deal.
"In that situation, everybody's trying their hardest to make plays, so I told him to keep his head up, be ready, he'll probably get another one," Cook said.
Besides, Cook would need help.
Cook, the Rockies' right-handed pitcher, incredibly survived two 10th-inning errors by Uggla, the Marlins' second baseman, that helped the American League load the bases with no outs. He escaped by forcing three more grounders using strictly his sinker.
Cook also benefited from standout defensive plays from Astros shortstop Miguel Tejada -- whose throw to first on a softly hit ball ended the 10th -- Pirates center fielder Nate McLouth and Nationals third baseman Cristian Guzman. On three days' rest, Cook gritted through 40 pitches for three innings in his first All-Star Game, and kept the National League in a 3-3 tie through 12 innings. The AL won, 4-3, in 15.
The result will be remembered in October, when the AL has home-field advantage in the World Series. But Cook's ground-ball wizardry against Grady Sizemore, Evan Longoria and Justin Morneau in the 10th will not be soon forgotten.
"This is probably one of the greatest games I've ever played," Cook said. "I mean, being an All-Star Game, in Yankee Stadium, 15 innings. Just unbelievable."
In each inning, Cook looked as if he'd lose it, but he never did. Cook's pitching allowed him to overshadow Rockies teammate Matt Holliday, who knocked his first hit in three All-Star Games for a home run in the fifth inning to give the NL a 1-0 lead.
"He [Cook] did an unbelievable job," Holliday said. "When you have that kind of a sinker, you've always got a chance."
The NL looked to have no chance when the 10th began with Uggla kicking a Michael Young grounder and letting a Carlos Quentin smash skip beneath his glove to put runners at second and third.
"I said, 'What have I got to lose? Let's see what we can do here,'" Cook said.
After an intentional walk to Carlos Guillen, Cook forced grounders by Sizemore -- to Uggla, no less -- and by Longoria to Guzman, on which runners were erased at the plate.
Tejada's dazzling play ended the inning.
Uggla was first to slap Cook's hand, then spent a quieter moment with Cook in the dugout.
"For him to get out of an inning with nobody out says enough," Uggla said. "I said, 'Thank you, man.'"
Cook opened the 11th by giving up a single, a walk and two more singles, but miraculously had two outs. Catcher Russell Martin threw out leadoff man Evan Longoria on a steal attempt, and McLouth made a standout throw from center after picking up Young's single to cut down Dioner Navarro at the plate.
"I told him he was my MVP after he made that play right there," Cook said.
McLouth, whose Pirates will play a four-game series at Coors against Cook's Rockies to open the post-break schedule, sent praise back at Cook.
"He didn't do too bad himself, getting out of a bases-loaded, no-out jam," McLouth said.
On Friday, Cook pitched around six Mets hits in six innings, but held them to one run in an eventual 2-1 Rockies loss. Rockies manager Clint Hurdle, leading the NL squad, looked at Cook to see if he could go a third inning and received a thumbs-up.
Carlos Guillen's double off the left-field wall merely was another chance for Cook to escape. Cook fanned Sizemore and Longoria and, after an intentional walk, escaped with a Kinsler grounder to Guzman.
"I felt pretty fresh when I went out there, just like another start," Cook said. "I would have gone back out there for a fourth inning if they'd needed me to."
Holliday also had a blast, especially when he poked a 1-2 pitch from the Angels' Ervin Santana into the short porch in right field. Holliday was 0-for-2 in the game and 0-for-7 in All-Star play before the homer.
"It's nice to get a hit in the All-Star Game," Holliday said. "To get a home run at Yankee Stadium was memorable. It was a lot of fun."
Thomas Harding is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.