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Sunday, July 9
Burroughs leads U.S. to victory in All-Star Futures Game

By Anthony Mormile SportsTicker Baseball Editor

ATLANTA (Ticker) -- The Houston Astros' nightmarish season has carried over to one of its top prospects.

Carlos Hernandez, possibly the most promising arm in the Astros' organization, was betrayed by poor defense as the United States Stars rode the bat and arm of 19-year-old Sean Burroughs and edged the World Stars, 3-2, today in the second annual All-Star Futures Game.

The event was held with the All-Star Celebrity Hitting Challenge as part of All-Star Sunday festivities at Turner Field, the site of Tuesday's major league All-Star Game.

With the game tied, 2-2, in the bottom of the eighth, the U.S. Stars scratched out a run against the 20-year-old Hernandez. Highly touted New York Yankees prospect Drew Henson opened the inning with a walk and, one out later, Burroughs -- the son of former American League Most Valuable Player Jeff Burroughs -- singled to left. Josh Hamilton singled off second baseman Ruben Salazar's glove to load the bases and Brandon Inge followed with a potential double play grounder to second that Salazar mishandled, allowing the go-ahead run to score.

Salazar tried to atone for his miscues by opening the ninth with a single off New York Mets prospect Grant Roberts. One out later, he stole second. Roberts retired Jean Boscan on a flyout before Chris George uncorked a wild pitch and walked Ntema Ndungidi. But the 20-year-old Kansas City Royals prospect retired Felipe Lopez on a groundout to second base.

Chicago White Sox prospect Mark Buehrle, a late replacement for Jon Garland -- who was called up to the majors -- earned the victory for the United States, getting bailed out of a jam by Burroughs in the top of the eighth. George picked up the save.

Burroughs came to fame as a slugger and pitcher for Little League World Series champion Long Beach, California, in 1992-93. Considered among the game's top prospects, he earned MVP honors.

"It's a thrill, I'm honored," he said. "Some balls just fell in."

After the World team put up a run in the first inning against Seattle Mariners phenom Ryan Anderson, the U.S. broke through against Aaron Myette in the second. Eric Munson struck out but reached on a wild pitch and Burroughs and Josh Hamilton followed with singles to load the bases. Ben Petrick lofted a long sacrifice fly to right to tie it and produce the first run for the U.S. stars in the two-year history of this game.

Travis "Gookie" Dawkins, who has seen time with the Cincinnati Reds this season, followed Petrick's sacrifice fly with a run-scoring groundout and moved up on a passed ball. But Vernon Wells, who participated in the game for the second straight year, grounded out to shortstop to end the threat.

An RBI single by Chin-Feng Chen in the top of the third scored Lopez with the tying run, but C.C. Sabathia rebounded to strike out Jackson Melian with two aboard to preserve the tie. Melian, a 20-year-old Yankees farmhand, has been mentioned prominently in trade talks involving the two-time defending world champions.

Philadelphia Phillies prospect Carlos Silva pitched out of a jam for the World stars in the bottom of the sixth, retiring Inge on a fly ball to shallow right, and the World team had a chance to go ahead in the eighth when Chen tripled with one out. But Luis Saturria grounded to third and Burroughs fired a bullet to the plate to nail Chen.

"It was a bang-bang play. A high chopper and I decided to make that throw," said Burroughs, who is slated to appear in the Double-A All-Star Game in Bowie, Maryland, on Wednesday. "

Last year's All-Star Futures Game produced 17 current major leaguers, including Cleveland Indians slugger Russell Branyan, Atlanta Braves shortstop Rafael Furcal and St. Louis Cardinals lefthander Rick Ankiel.

In the celebrity hitting challenge, Team Carty took advantage of a liberal use of the word celebrity to record an easy victory. Captain Rico Carty, a former All-Star with the Braves, teamed with Andre Dawson, who looked like he could step in for the National League on Tuesday, USA Softball star Lisa Fernandez and ESPN analyst Harold Reynolds, who somehow qualified as a celebrity.

Dawson and Reynolds alone combined to outscore Team Evans, which consisted of USA Softball's Michele Smith, actor Chris Klein, recently retired Wade Boggs and former Braves slugger Darrell Evans. With Dawson racking up 320 points and Reynolds 200, Team Carty cruised to a 620-430 victory.

Dawson's two-round total of 580 was 200 points more than his next closest compeitor, Boggs, who retired last season and serves as an assistant general manager with the Tampa Bay Devil Rays.

Team Nixon and Team Horner were eliminated in the first round. Team Nixon consisted of former Brave Otis Nixon, future Hall of Famer Dave Winfield, actor Marc Blucas and USA Softball's Dot Richardson. Team Horner was comprised of legendary shortstop Ozzie Smith, USA Softball's Crystl Bustos, singer Mark McGrath and former Brave Bob Horner.

Attendance for the day's festivities was 43,210. Both All-Star teams will work out on Monday, with the major league home run hitting competition slated for Monday night.

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