Elated Capps gets win in All-Star debut

Elated Capps gets win in All-Star debut

ANAHEIM -- To say that Nationals right-hander Matt Capps enjoyed his time during All-Star week is an understatement. He was happy that he was able to take his family -- including his wife, Jen, and mother, Kathy -- along for the festivities.

"My mother is in hog heaven right now," Capps said. "She is running around trying to meet everybody and talk to everybody. Yes, she is having a blast."

Capps, 26, also had a blast on the field. He picked up the victory as the National League defeated the American League, 3-1, at Angel Stadium on Tuesday night. The victory broke the NL's 13-game losing streak against the AL as Capps became the first NL pitcher to win since John Smoltz in 1996.

"It's good for us to get that first one in 14 years. It's a good feeling," Capps said. "It's good for baseball and it's good for the National League. We know tonight that the National League is better."

Capps entered in the bottom of the sixth inning, replacing Phillies right-hander Roy Halladay with two outs, a runner on first base and the AL leading, 1-0.

Capps faced Red Sox slugger David Ortiz, the 2010 State Farm Home Run Derby champion. Capps had not faced Ortiz before, and the Nats' closer felt he had the advantage because Ortiz didn't have a scouting report on him.

Capps found himself behind in the count, 2-0, but managed to strike out Ortiz on the next three pitches to end the inning.

Once he entered the dugout, Capps was told that he would not go back out for another inning. He then said to himself, "I might get a victory if the team rallies."

The NL took the lead in the top of the seventh on a three-run double by Braves catcher Brian McCann, who played summer ball with Capps when both were growing up in Atlanta.

In 2001, Capps and McCann shared catching duties. When McCann was behind the plate, Capps played the outfield. Tuesday marked the first time that Capps threw to his childhood friend.

"It feels pretty good," Capps said about the victory. "I just came in to face one hitter. The guys did a great job of putting some runs up later. ... It worked out well, I'm very pleased with it, excited about it."

Capps said the best time he had was a few hours before Tuesday's game, when he and his wife appeared on the All-Star Red Carpet Show presented by Chevy. After the ceremony, Matt went to Angel Stadium to prepare for the Midsummer Classic.

"I'm trying to soak it in and enjoy it as much as I can," Capps said. "The fans and all the attention have been a lot of fun. It has been an exciting time for me.

"Jen went to the Red Carpet with me. We were able to ride through Disney. That was a lot of fun. There were a lot of people there, and [it was good to see] the excitement they had. It was just a great experience."

Capps wasn't the only All-Star in the family. He said Jen was quite busy. Matt invited family, in-laws and friends to the All-Star festivities, and Jen was the point person when it came to making sure that every person that Capps invited enjoyed themselves.

"She was busier than we thought she should be," Capps said. "She was trying to make sure that everyone was in the right place and making sure that everyone was taken care of. She is doing great."

Capps always dreamed of becoming a baseball player, but never thought about becoming an All-Star.

He is off to the best start of his career, saving 23 games -- third in the Majors -- with a 3.18 ERA. Capps' best month came in April, when he finished the month with a big league-best 10 saves, converting each of his save opportunities in 12 appearances. He posted a 0.68 ERA, struck out 15 and held opposing hitters to a .226 batting average in his first month with Washington.

"As a kid, I always dreamed of playing in the big leagues," Capps said. "Playing in the All-Star Game is something I never really thought about. I don't know how to say it. It has been a blast."

Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, All Nats All the time. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.