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IL extends recent All-Star dominance07/14/2010 9:47 PM ET
By Josh Jackson / Special to MLB.com
ALLENTOWN, Pa. -- It may have looked like a sleeper in the early going Wednesday, but the International League ended up continuing its recent dominance at the Triple-A All-Star Game.
Held hitless until the fifth inning, the IL got an RBI double from Chase Lambin and a run-scoring single from Elliot Johnson in the sixth to edge the Pacific Coast League, 2-1, before a sellout crowd of 10,000 at Coca-Cola Park.
Hometown hero Andy Tracy of the Lehigh Valley IronPigs broke up the no-hitter with a leadoff single in the fifth against Brandon Dickson of the Memphis Redbirds.
Notching the IL's first hit "felt awesome," said Tracy.
"They had some good arms, and we were trying to get something started."
After Gwinnett's Wes Timmons came in to pinch run for Tracy and took second on a wild pitch, Dickson retired the next three hitters in order, ending the threat.
The next inning, though, the IL team refused to let another chance fall through the cracks.
Chris Valaika of the Louisville Bats started the sixth with a double off of Round Rocks' Josh Banks, who took the loss.
"It was nice to get a hit -- much less a double," Valaika said.
"I was just looking for a something I could put a good swing on. I watched [Banks] warm up, and I saw he had some good stuff. I didn't want to [have to face] his out pitch. So I just wanted to get up there and get on base, to try to get something I could handle."
Valaika took advantage of a 1-0 fastball on the outside part of the plate, driving it into left field. Lambin doubled Valaika home to tie the score and was named the IL's Top Star.
Johnson, who entered as a defensive replacement in the top of the inning, broke the 1-1 deadlock with a single to left.
Rochester Red Wings right-hander Anthony Slama got the win after pitching a scoreless sixth and Jonathan Albaladejo of the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees pitched a 1-2-3 ninth for the save. Albaladejo shares the Minor League lead with 29 regular-season saves.
"It was great," Albaladejo said. "I think it was the best night of the [season]. It was a lot of fun."
All-Star Game or no, the 6-foot-5 righty didn't change his approach on the mound.
"I never even thought about the score of the game," Albaladejo added. "I go out there with the mentality that every game is a one-run game. I just go out there and try to do my job."
Iowa Cubs infielder Darwin Barney singled home Matt Miller of the Colorado Springs Sky Sox in the second for the PCL's lone run.
His early RBI "kind of released a little bit of pressure," said Barney. "It's always good to contribute when you're on a team with a bunch of guys you only see every once in awhile.
"Trumbo drew a good walk in front of me, and when a guy in an All-Star Game throws four balls, in a row, you can kind of pick your pitch. I was lucky enough to get the one I was looking for."
Starter Thomas Diamond of the Cubs struck out two and walked two over two hitless innings and was named the PCL's Top Star. But he admitted he would have preferred a different ending to the game.
"I wish we got a victory tonight, but it was fun, playing with all these guys and the guys from the IL."
Facing unfamiliar hitters, Diamond kept his game plan simple.
"It was different, but we just attacked them with mostly fastballs and just worked from there."
Having pitched three innings for Iowa on Sunday, Diamond said he felt no signs of fatigue during Wednesday's game.
"I felt fine. I was in the bullpen last year, so I don't mind pitching on short rest. It was nice to get out there and have these awesome players behind me."
Valaika expressed similar sentiments.
"It's been a great weekend," he said. "Just being around all these guys, playing with the best players in Triple-A. It's been great."