Wed, Jul 12, 2006 - Page 18 News List

Howard beats Mets' Wright to clinch Home Run Derby

AP , PITTSBURGH

Ryan Howard made certain his first trip to the Major League Baseball All-Star game would be a memorable one by beating New York Mets' David Wright to win the Home Run Derby on Monday.

After homering into the Allegheny River earlier, the 2005 National League Rookie of the Year's fifth and decisive homer in the championship round banged off a "Hit It Here" sign above the right-field stands to give a lucky fan 500 free round-trip air tickets.

"That'll give the fans in Philly something to cheer about," said Howard, whose 28 homers at the All-Star break are the second most among NL All-Stars.

Wright, with Mets catcher Paul Lo Duca throwing to him, had a big edge after the first round with 16, or six more than any other competitor. But he had only six in the next two rounds, and Howard won the final with extra at-bats to spare.

Wright enjoyed a six-homer advantage over Boston's David Ortiz before any second-round homers were hit, all but guaranteeing the Mets third baseman a spot in the finals even though he hit only two in the second round.

Howard made a big push to get into the final round, hitting 10 homers in the second round for a two-round total of 18 to tie Wright and bypass Ortiz and Florida's Miguel Cabrera. Cabrera had nine homers in the first round and six in the second.

Ortiz hit 10 in the first round, down from his 17 of a year ago. Ortiz's 31 homers at the break are the most ever by a Red Sox player.

Eliminated after the first round were Jermaine Dye (7) Miguel Tejada (3), Lance Berkman (3) and Troy Glaus (1).

Ortiz, Berkman and Howard all found the Allegheny River behind the right-field stands on the fly, a feat accomplished only once in regular season play. Daryle Ward did it for Houston in July 2002 with a drive estimated at 144m.

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