CHICAGO -- Jason Giambi may not have been elected to start the All-Star Game for the American League, but he certainly made the most of the one pitch he saw.
With the AL trailing, 6-3, Giambi drilled a solo home run off Astros closer Billy Wagner in the seventh inning, cutting the lead to two runs. The AL went on to score three runs in the eighth against Dodgers closer Eric Gagne, two on Hank Blalock's pinch-hit home run, securing home-field advantage in the World Series with a 7-6 victory.
"Any time you can come up with a big hit in an All-Star Game, it's exciting," Giambi said. "It's a chance to shine on a national stage. To hit a home run here, then to have Blalock hit his, it was great."
Giambi almost wasn't part of the game at all. He was added to the AL's roster because of a back injury to Kansas City's Mike Sweeney, giving Giambi his fourth consecutive All-Star appearance. In his previous three games, Giambi was 1-for-5, singling in last year's game for his first hit.
When he stepped to the plate against Wagner, he was doing so for the first time in a competitive game. Having only faced Wagner in Spring Training, Giambi was sitting on a fastball. When he saw it, he jumped on it.
"When you throw a 100 miles an hour, there's no reason to throw anything else," Giambi said. "Luckily, I ran into one. I'll take it. I got one pitch and I didn't miss it."
"I'm not saying that the pitch wouldn't be the same, but I probably would have tried to go in a little bit more," Wagner said. "This is the type of game, you're not out there to hurt anybody. You're not out there trying to try to knock somebody down. You're just out there trying to get the job done."
The shot, which went an estimated 408 feet to right-center field, was one of three home runs hit by the American League. Garret Anderson's two-run blast in the sixth got the AL's comeback rolling, causing Giambi and his former Oakland teammate, Mark Mulder, to marvel at Anderson's phenomenal All-Star week.
"Garret had an unbelievable game," Giambi said of Anderson, who won the game's MVP award. "Hitting a homer, falling a triple short of the cycle. That's a lousy All-Star Game, huh?"
Mulder thought that Anderson's home run may have inspired Giambi.
"After Garret hit his homer, I said to Jason how great a feeling it must be to hit a home run in the All-Star Game," Mulder said. "Next inning, he hit his. When he came up here, I turned to him and said, 'Didn't hit that one well, huh?' That's why he's one of the best."
Giambi wasn't the only Yankee to play in this year's Midsummer Classic, as Alfonso Soriano, Jorge Posada and Hideki Matsui were all in the AL's starting lineup. The trio didn't fare quite as well as Giambi, going a combined 1-for-7 with three strikeouts. Matsui's second-inning single was the only hit for the three New York starters.
"It was awesome," Giambi said of Matsui. "He went out and got a knock in his first at-bat, made a few great plays defensively. I know he had a lot of fun."
Roger Clemens was the lone Yankees pitcher on the AL squad, having replaced Barry Zito on Monday afternoon. Clemens pitched a 1-2-3 third inning, striking out Jose Vidro and Edgar Renteria.
"That was probably one of the best parts of the night, getting to see Rocket out there one more time," Giambi said. "He's an unbelievable professional. To come in for that one perfect inning, give the fans that one last chance to see him before he rides off into the sunset, it was special."
Giambi was on his way to catch a plane back to New York after the game, as he and his teammates prepare to open the second half of the season on Thursday. With the home-field advantage in the World Series in the AL's back pocket, Giambi expects an exciting couple of months of baseball down the stretch.
"There's still a long second-half to play," Giambi said. "There is a light at the end of the tunnel for the American League, so it's a race to the finish. If you don't make it to the World Series, this doesn't matter."
If the Yankees do reach the Fall Classic, they will have Blalock, the Texas rookie, to thank when they open with Game 1 in the Bronx.
"I'm sure whatever AL team makes it to the World Series will send Blalock a 12-pack of something -- especially if it goes to Game 7," Giambi joked. "We might vote him in a full share if we win. We have to make it there first."
Mark Feinsand is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.