Brewers’ Fielder wins HR Derby

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Associated Press
July 14, 2009
— Prince Fielder beat the hometown boppers on their own turf.

With Albert Pujols and Ryan Howard eliminated early, Fielder won baseball’s Home Run Derby on Monday night with a steady power display that included a jaw-dropping drive estimated at 503 feet.

The Milwaukee Brewers’ first baseman outslugged Texas outfielder Nelson Cruz, 6-5, in the finals at Busch Stadium to take home a title that St. Louis fans surely hoped would go to one of their own.

“It’s what I expected. This is Albert’s stadium and Ryan is from here,” Fielder said. “I was just happy I was able to put on a show and I’m glad I won.”

Pujols, the Cardinals’ big first baseman, and Howard, who grew up in the Gateway City, were knocked out in the second round.

Ironically, Cruz was a former Brewers prospect that Milwaukee dealt to the Rangers in 2006 as part of a six-player trade.

This year’s All-Star festivities were supposed to belong to Pujols in his home ballpark. But Fielder snatched the spotlight in the annual warmup for tonight’s Midsummer Classic.

With three outs remaining in the final round, Fielder smacked a drive onto the grassy hill in center field to clinch the crown. He posed for a moment with his bat held high, then embraced Brewers teammate Ryan Braun near home plate.

Pujols, who leads the majors with 32 homers, needed a late rally just to avoid elimination in the first round. With one out to work with, he connected on consecutive swings to force a three-player swing-off for the final spot in round 2, sending the red-clad crowd of 45,981 into a high-fiving frenzy.

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