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CHICAGO -- Keith Foulke spent much of Monday's media session downplaying the obvious angle of his return to town as an All-Star.
He lost his job as the White Sox closer last year and was traded to Oakland in the offseason after 5 1/2 seasons on the South Side. But no, he insisted, there was nothing particularly special about making his All-Star debut back here.
After nailing down the American League’s thrilling 7-6 victory Tuesday at U.S. Cellular Field with a perfect ninth inning, though, Foulke finally fessed up.
"It is special," he said. "It turned out to be a great situation."
With his wife Mandy and his parents, Pauline and Chuck, in the stands, Foulke coaxed harmless fly balls to center out of Los Angeles' Paul Lo Duca and Florida's Luis Castillo before they all held their breath as Braves shortstop Rafael Furcal's drive carried all the way to the right-field wall.
"That was a little scary," Pauline said with a laugh.
When the ball finally landed in former teammate Magglio Ordonez's glove on the warning track, Foulke broke into a huge grin before being congratulated in front of the mound by current teammate and AL catcher Ramon Hernandez.
"I was a little nervous," he admitted, "but once I saw Magglio kind of set up under it, I knew it was over."
Hernandez, who also caught A's teammate Mark Mulder in the game, was a tad concerned, too.
"I wasn't worried when he hit it, but as it kept going I was like, 'Oh my,'" Hernandez said. "I didn't think it had a chance at first. But it worked out, and I'm just so happy for Keith. It’s unbelievable."
Hernandez went 0-for-1, bouncing out to third base in the seventh inning against Billy Wagner. But the thrill of catching two teammates and Anaheim's Brendan Donnelly in his first All-Star Game left him smiling wide in the winners' clubhouse.
Mulder worked the sixth and seventh innings, Donnelly the eighth.
"The first three pitches Mulder threw, I was nervous. I admit it," he said. "But after that it was cool. After that it was just a lot of fun. ... Mark was a little excited, too, I think, trying to do too much."
Mulder, who grew up a White Sox fan in a Windy City suburb, made his All-Star debut Tuesday, too. And despite allowing five hits over two innings, including a 412-foot solo home run to Atlanta Braves outfielder Andruw Jones, he thoroughly enjoyed pitching against the National League's best hitters in front of a sellout crowd that included 18 friends and family members.
"It was awesome," Mulder said. "I mean, I didn't have a splitter all day and gave four of the five hits they got on splits, but I had a blast. And to see Keith get in there and do what he did, that just makes it even better.
"After not having such a good ending to his time here with the Sox, this was great for him personally."
Jones, by the way, has now homered off all three of Oakland’s top lefties this year. He went deep against Ted Lilly and Barry Zito when Atlanta visited the Bay Area in early June.
"And they don’t even have a video guy in Atlanta," marveled Zito, who was inactive for the game but suited up and took it all in from the AL dugout. "That guy's amazing, man."
Zito was happy for Foulke, too. But he had no idea if his teammate was playing possum about his return to Chicago.
"Keith's a tough dude to read," Zito said. "He doesn’t wear his mind on his sleeve like I do, so you never know. But I know he was pumped tonight."
Chuck Foulke insisted that his son wasn't thinking revenge. "He's just happy to be here, he really is. He has no animosity toward [the White Sox]."
Added Mandy Foulke, "I think just getting the save made it extra special."
Mychael Urban is a national writer for MLB.com. This story was not subject to approval by Major League Baseball or its clubs.