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National League defeats American League, 8-0, in All-Star Game

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — If the Dodgers get to the World Series, they can thank the San Francisco Giants for the home-field advantage.

Or not.

“I’m not going to thank them,” Clayton Kershaw said, “but I’m glad we would have home-field advantage.”

The big winner in Tuesday’s All-Star game: the National League, with an 8-0 romp that marked its third consecutive victory. The biggest winner: the Giants’ fan base, which was ridiculed for voting three players into the starting lineup.

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PHOTOS: 2012 Major League Baseball All-Star Game

“They definitely put their bats where everybody’s mouths were,” Giants pitcher Matt Cain said.

Cain was the winning pitcher, with the strong support of those three starters.

Outfielder Melky Cabrera, the game’s most valuable player, singled and homered. Third baseman Pablo Sandoval hit a bases-loaded triple. Catcher Buster Posey walked and scored.

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In fact, all three of those Giants scored in a five-run first inning -- tied for the highest-scoring NL inning in All-Star history -- against reigning Cy Young Award winner Justin Verlander of the Detroit Tigers.

Verlander threw four consecutive pitches at 100 or 101 mph, one of which was a strike. He said candidly that the importance of winning the game -- as trumpeted by the commissioner and on television -- did not compare to the enjoyment of putting on a show.

In his 18 starts this season, Verlander had given up five earned runs only once. If this were a meaningful start, he said, he would have harnessed his velocity for the later innings. But this game was an exhibition, and he would pitch two innings at most.

“This game is for the fans,” Verlander said. “I know the fans don’t want to see me throw 90 and try to hit the corners.”

PHOTOS: 2012 Major League Baseball Home Run Derby

Mike Trout had the most memorable performance among Dodgers and Angels players. Kershaw and the Angels’ Jered Weaver each pitched a scoreless inning, and Angels outfielder Mark Trumbo struck out in both of his at-bats.

Trout, the Angels’ 20-year-old phenom, became the youngest player to get a hit in the All-Star game since Hall of Famer Al Kaline in 1955.

Trout singled, walked and stole a base -- with the single coming on the first swing against the first knuckleball pitcher he had seen in his life, R.A. Dickey of the New York Mets, in the league in which the Angels do not play.

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“He can stay there for a little bit,” Trout said.

Trout went with the old “see ball, hit ball” approach on his single. He stole second base, then got a long look at the knuckleball from there.

“It was pretty intense, pretty crazy,” Trout said. “To see the way it can move is pretty amazing.”

That Sandoval got the key hit in the big inning was amazing in several respects. For one, the hit was a triple, and he is listed at 240 pounds.

“It feels great,” he said, “when you’re not stopping at first base.”

Sandoval, who joined Hall of Famers Willie Mays and Mel Ott as the only Giants to triple in the All-Star game, has no triples in 210 at-bats this season. The Giants need his bat, but they have hounded him about his occasional indifference about staying in shape.

“They make those comments because they want the best for me,” Sandoval said. “I always say thank you to the Giants organization.”

Sandoval was the focus of the New York-centered voting outrage. Sandy Alderson, the Mets’ aggrieved general manager, tweeted on behalf of his third baseman, David Wright, by deriding Sandoval by his nickname.

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“ASG election of ‘Kung Fu Panda’ shows the value of a cute nickname,” Alderson tweeted. “Surprised Giants fans didn’t elect a ‘ball dude’ to start at 3B.”

All’s well that ends well, said Cincinnati Reds first baseman Joey Votto.

“It’s a good thing David Wright didn’t start,” Votto said, “or else Pablo Sandoval wouldn’t have gotten that triple.”

bill.shaikin@latimes.com

twitter.com/BillShaikin


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