Gonzalez, Youkilis enjoy ASG at the plate

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Gonzalez, Youkilis enjoy ASG at the plate

By Sean McAdam
CSNNE.com Red Sox Insider Follow @sean_mcadam
PHOENIX -- Some players worry that taking part in the Home Run Derby can mess with their natural swings.

Adrian Gonzalez, apparently, isn't one of them.

A day after finishing second to Robinson Cano in the annual Home Run Derby, Gonzalez homered in the fourth inning to provide the American League with their only run in a 5-1 loss to the National League.

"It was great for the time being, said Gonzalez, "but we gave up three runs in the next inning, so it was short-lived. But it was a great experience.

Gonzalez, however, said there was no correlation between his showing Monday night in the derby and his home run in the game Tuesday night.

"I don't focus on that, he said. "It's a lot different when a guy is throwing BP (compared) to Cliff Lee pitching.

Lee got ahead of Gonzalez 0-and-1 with a fastball away, but then threw him a front-door cutter that Gonzalez was able to line to right-center.

"I got it up enough in the air to carry out of the park, said Gonzalez.

The homer was the first for anyone in the All-Star Game dating back 29 innings. Before Gonzalez's shot, the last All-Star homer was hit by current teammate J.D. Drew in the 15th inning of the 2008 All-Star Game at Yankee Stadium.

Gonzalez became the 13th Red Sox player to homer in the All-Star Game.

After going hitless in his first All-Star Game in 2008, Kevin Youkilis now seems to have the hang of it.

Youkilis had just one at-bat, but managed a single in the American League's 5-1 loss to the National League at Chase Field.

It marked the second time in the last three seasons that Youkilis has taken advantage of his one All-Star at-bat with a hit.

"It's good to get hits in the All-Star Game," he said. "The past two times now, I've had hits. It's good to get those and maybe build up my All-Star Game stats."

Youkilis, who was a late addition to the squad because of injuries to others, made the most of the opportunity.

"It was a good time," said Youkilis. "Unfortunately we didn't come out on top, but it was a lot of fun. It was exciting to represent the Red Sox."

Youkilis said the All-Star experience "goes quick. Fortunately, this is not my first one. With your first one, it speeds up on you a little bit. So I got to sit back a little bit and enjoy it."

The loss -- the second in a row by the American League -- means the National League champs will enjoy home field advantage in the World Series.

But that's a long way off and Youkilis said he wasn't concerned.

"I'm not disappointed," said Youkilis. "I have the philosophy that we have to win on the road anyway. For us, we'll have to go into someone else's place to play if we're in the World Series."

As a first-time All-Star, Jacoby Ellsbury tried to take everything in, socializing with players from all over the game.

"I just tried to meet everybody," he said, "and have conversations with everyone. The game was fun and so was the Home Run Derby. I just tried to soak everything in and enjoy it."

Ellsbury got two plate appearances in the AL's 5-1 loss to the NL and struck out both times.

He faced two Atlanta Braves in his plate appearances -- starter Jair Jurrjens and Jonny Venters -- and struck out against both.

"You're coming it, facing guys you've maybe never seen before," he said. "They're obviously the best in the game at what they do. Unfortunately tonight didn't go my way, but I loved the experience. I had a great time out there.

"It's fun. I enjoyed it. The next couple of days, I'm sure I'll look back and think of something that was pretty special to me."

Sean McAdam can be reached at smcadam@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Sean on Twitter at http:twitter.comsean_mcadam.

Merloni: ‘Missed opportunities left and right’ for Red Sox

Merloni: ‘Missed opportunities left and right’ for Red Sox

Lou Merloni talks about the Red Sox losing 6 out of the last 7 games and if David Price should have stayed in the game for the 9th inning.

McAdam: Red Sox at a loss after excruciating defeat

McAdam: Red Sox at a loss after excruciating defeat

There are still two full months of games left on the schedule and who knows what might happen in that time, or what else might befall the Red Sox.

But for now, it's no stretch to suggest that Thursday's excruciating 2-1 setback in Anaheim constitutes the worst loss of the season to date. The point hardly seems debatable.

Consider:

THE TIMING: This was the start of the longest, and in many ways, most challenging road trip of the season, with 11 games in 11 days. It comes immediately after a homestand that was highly disappointing, featuring a mere split with the last-place Minnesota Twins and a sweep at the hands of the otherwise mediocre Detroit Tigers.

There's been a great deal of attention focused on how many road games the Sox have to play through the rest of the season. Winning the opener -- and snapping a three-game losing streak in the process - would have felt like a strong statement that the club was ready and able to meet the challenges of the schedule.

THE STARTING PITCHER: The loss wiped out a standout performance by David Price, who may well hold the key to whether the Red Sox grab a playoff spot this fall.

Price has been woefully inconsistent in his first season with the Red Sox, alternating between brief stretches of dominance and periods of underwhelming outings.

For a change Thursday night, Price seemed on the verge of winning one of those "statement'' games, when he would make one measly run in the third inning stand up. There have been too many times, given his standing as the team's No. 1 starter, in which Price has pitched just well enough to lose -- like the pitcher's duels in which he came up short against the likes of Madison Bumgarner and Chris Tillman.

But on Thursday, Price didn't buckle. And never mind that he was matched against an aging and depleted Jered Weaver. Price had next-to-nothing with which to work, but he protected the 1-0 lead with a determination he has seldon shown in Boston.

And for his effort to go wasted sets an inauspicious marker for this demanding trip. There was something symbolic about having Price set the tone at the start with a low-scoring, must-have game.

He did his part. Unfortunately for Price, that wasn't enough.

THE WAY IN WHICH IT HAPPENED: Walk-off losses are never pleasant, whether they come on a homer, or a base hit up the middle.

But considering that the Red Sox had the ability to turn Daniel Nava's tapper to first into a game-ending double play, and instead, saw it result in a two-run throwing error on the part of Hanley Ramirez, makes it all the more crushing.

Brad Ziegler, who gave up a go-ahead game-winning homer in the final game of the homestand Wednesday, essentially did his job in the ninth. He got Mike Trout to hit a chopper, which resulted in an infield single. And he kept the ball on the ground and in the infield, with the Sox bringing the infield in with the bases loaded and one out.

Better execution, and the Red Sox walk away with a thrilling 1-0 victory to begin their West Coast trek. Instead, they walk off the field, heads down, with the wrong precedent being set.