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Tejada tops Berkman 5-4 in Home Run final

HOUSTON -- Miguel Tejada walked on the field, gazed at Hank
Aaron, Barry Bonds and Willie Mays, and felt very out of place in
the All-Star Home Run Derby.

"Shivers," he recalled. "Just being so close to those guys,
it's unbelievable."

A call for the usual intentional walk to Bonds opened Monday
night's All-Star Home Run Derby with a laugh. Tejada then drew
gasps, flashing even more power than the slugger who usually gets
the attention.

The Baltimore shortstop hit a record 15 home runs in the second
round, topping out at 497 feet and putting several over the 58-foot
wall behind the left field seats, toward Crawford Street. He went
on to defeat hometown favorite Lance Berkman 5-4 in the final with
five of 10 outs to spare.

"Oh my gosh, I'm winning the Home Run Derby," Tejada thought
to himself. "I usually watch it from my house, usually watch it on
TV."

Five of Berkman's 10 homers in the second round were dramatic
shots out of the ballpark, including a 493-foot drive.

"After I hit three in a row out of the stadium, I thought that
was really neat. The fans were going crazy," Berkman said. "I got
in a nice groove. The second round was quite an experience. I ran
out of gas."

Both finalists batted right-handed and replaced left-handers who
pulled out, with Tejada taking over from Jason Giambi and Berkman,
a switch-hitter, getting the call after Ken Griffey Jr. got hurt
last weekend. The big wall in left, which has replica 1860
locomotive that runs across it, provides a perfect panorama for
right-handers.

When he took first swing, Tejada was hoping to hit just one
homer.

"Miggy, you're not going to win," he recalled thinking.
"There's so many home run hitters."

Bonds did get pitched to, hitting eight homers with the roof
closed in the first round, one a 483-foot shot over the top row of
seats in the right-field upper deck. But he had just three in the
second, when the panels pulled back to reveal the night sky and the
humidity rolled in.

Before the competition, the 14 living players among the 20 with
500 or more homers came together in a room beneath the right field
upper deck to swap stories, pose for photos and project what the
future will bring to the long ball. If the ball has been juiced in
recent years, this was the appropriate setting for such a gathering
-- Minute Maid Park.

Adding it all up, the gathering totaled 8,083 homers. Ten of the
top 11 sluggers in baseball history, all but the deceased Sultan of
Swat, Babe Ruth.

Aaron, the only man to top Ruth's 714, predicted that Bonds
(currently at 681) will surpass his mark.

"It won't bother me a bit," Hammerin' Hank said.

Even among the glittery stars, Bonds shined the brightest -- the
light from the cameras reflected off the diamond crucifix earring
on his left earlobe.

He posed for pictures with his godfather, Mays, now fourth on
the career list at 660 after being passed by his godson earlier
this year.

Bonds was looking forward to the Home Run Derby. He's been
intentionally walked 71 times this season -- three more than the
previous record he set two years ago -- and walked 131 times in all.

"I don't have a chance to swing much," he said.

Even if he does pass Aaron, Bonds guessed that he wouldn't
remain No. 1 very long and that this generation's stars won't
dominate the top of the list forever.

"Someone's going to pass us," said Bonds, later greeted by the
fans with a standing ovation.

Mark McGwire, making a rare ballpark appearance, predicted
28-year-old Alex Rodriguez (367) or 24-year-old Albert Pujols (136)
could be the ones.

"In 10 years, it's going to be scary," he said.

McGwire, whose season record of 70 homers in 1998 was topped by
Bonds' 73 in 2001, didn't want to discuss baseball's decision this
spring to ban the use of androstenedione, the steroidlike
supplement McGwire used in 1998.

"Great. Perfect. Then I would have never used it," said
McGwire, who stopped taking andro the following year, saying he
didn't want children to follow his lead.

Bonds wouldn't talk about steroids. He was among the athletes
who testified last fall before a federal grand jury last fall
investigating illegal steroid distribution. His personal trainer
was indicted. Bonds has denied using illegal steroids.

"What court are you talking about?" he said when asked whether
the court proceedings were a distraction. "I'm not in court. I'm
not in there, so I don't have to worry about it."

Reggie Jackson thought it was unfair that the media has cast
suspicion on today's home run hitters for using illegal steroids.

"You haven't fingered anybody," he said. "So until then, stop
accusing until you have evidence that this guy did this, and if you
don't, lay off of him. If it was me, I would sue for defamation of
character."