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Cruz, Jones could benefit from AL's ASG victory

Impact of win may be felt most by Orioles, who currently pace the East

MINNEAPOLIS -- All-Stars Nelson Cruz and Adam Jones can both look past their 0-for-2 stat lines in Tuesday night's Midsummer Classic.

Cruz and Jones arrived at Target Field looking for a win, and that's what they got, as the American League downed the National League, 5-3.

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Representing a team that is in first place in the AL East, Cruz and Jones don't discount the impact this All-Star victory could have in October.

"We're here to win," said Cruz. "We were here to enjoy the game, but mostly we're here to win. I know, personally, how important it is to have that advantage in the World Series."

Cruz experienced first-hand what it's like not to have home-field advantage in the World Series, as he was part of a Rangers team that lost a heartbreaking Fall Classic to the Cardinals in 2011.

The Rangers had Game 6 -- and seemingly, the World Series -- under control. But the Cardinals, helped by their loud home crowd and clutch bats, turned the tables and won that classic game, and then Game 7.

"If we had the home-field advantage, we would have won it," said Cruz. "We played extra innings, and we went on top, so if we were at home, we would have won the game. I know how important it is to get this win."

Jones has never tasted the World Series, but he completely believes in what Cruz was saying.

"It doesn't matter who says the [All-Star] Game doesn't count," Jones said. "We're competitors. It does matter. We're going to be competitive against each other. It was beautiful to see."

The teammates -- who were joined by injured catcher Matt Wieters -- also enjoyed paying homage to Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter, who celebrated his final All-Star Game by going 2-for-2.

"It's sad to see him in his last All-Star Game," said Jones. "It's sad to see him go, that he's not going to be around in 2015. But the 20 years he gave baseball were unbelievable. The Midwest is known for its hospitality, and the fans showed up with a standing ovation."

"It's awesome," said Cruz. "You never get enough of the All-Stars. Every year it's something new. I think this year we got a chance with Jeter in his last All-Star Game. It's a privilege to see him still perform at this level."

In Cruz's first at-bat, he hit a broken-bat grounder to shortstop against Adam Wainwright, ending the AL's three-run first. Jones led off the second by popping up against Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw.

And in the fourth, the duo had back-to-back strikeouts against Zack Greinke.

"Facing them Dodger guys, they are just filthy," said Jones. "Clayton and Greinke are filthy. I can see why they're here."

The sluggers look forward to returning to work on Friday, when they will try to extend the Orioles' lead in the standings.

"We're going to have to grind it out," said Jones. "It's going to be tough. Our schedule is going to be tough. It's been tough all year, but we've got to grind it out."

Ian Browne is a reporter for Read his blog, Brownie Points, and follow him on Twitter @IanMBrowne.

Baltimore Orioles, Nelson Cruz, Adam Jones