Albert Pujols became the fifth-youngest player to reach 300 career home runs.

Only Alex Rodriguez, Jimmie Foxx, Ken Griffey Jr. and Andruw Jones got to the milestone sooner. At 28 years and 170 days, Pujols was one day younger than Mel Ott when the Hall of Famer hit his 300th.

"It's the mark of a great career," manager Tony La Russa told MLB.com.

Unfortunately, the eighth-inning drive off of the left-field foul pole against Bobby Howry wasn't enough to beat the Cubs, who held on for a 2-1 win on July 4.

"It doesn't matter," Pujols said. "Three hundred home runs, and obviously it's a great honor to be named with some of the great players in the game. I would have taken 1-for-4 with a win, that's more important."

Webb, Haren get All-Star nod: Brandon Webb and Dan Haren, named to the National League pitching staff for the July 15 All-Star Game in New York, are a potent duo. Webb (12-4, 3.43 ERA) is tied for the Major League lead in wins, and Haren has a 2.83 ERA and 103 strikeouts. Webb could be penciled in as the NL starter.

"It depends on the way it lines up," Webb told the Arizona Republic. "I pitch Sunday [July 13], the last day in Philly, so two days are right on my bullpen day, so it probably depends on what [Rockies manager Clint] Hurdle has planned for the first inning or two ... Obviously it would be a great honor, pretty sweet, to start the game."

Jones puts up another big game: Chipper Jones, announced as the starting third baseman for the NL All-Star team, reached base seven times on July 6. Jones had three hits, finished a double shy of the cycle, and four walks in a 7-6, 17-inning win over the Astros.

"If we've got to work this hard to win one, man, I don't know if we'll have enough gas in the tank," Jones told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. "I think we DL'd three guys today."

Angels land trio of pitchers on AL team: The Angels have three pitchers on the 2008 AL All-Star team. Francisco Rodriguez earned his third selection to the squad while Joe Saunders and Ervin Santana are each making their first appearance.

"You look at his record, what he's done, it's great to have him recognized," manager Mike Scioscia told the Los Angeles Times of Saunders' selection. "Through his experience, he's become comfortable with what he needs to do to get hitters out, and he's not afraid of contact."

"(Santana's) another example of a guy who has used his experience and understanding what he needs to do on the mound," Scioscia said. "He struggled last year, but the talent was there, and his mechanics came together."

Martin added to NL roster: The NL added Russell Martin to its roster for the All-Star team as a backup catcher. This year's game will be played at Yankee Stadium, giving Martin his first look at the historic park.

"This is my last opportunity," Martin told the Los Angeles Times of Yankee Stadium, which will close at season's end. "There are a lot of people in this game that are never going to have the opportunity to play there. I feel like I'm fortunate."

Lincecum to get an extra start before break: The Giants shuffled their starting rotation, moving Tim Lincecum's start up one day to give him two more starts before the All-Star break. The move means that Lincecum will likely not be the starter for the NL in this year's All-Star Game.

"The priority is here," manager Bruce Bochy told the San Francisco Chronicle. "The All-Star Game is huge. It's a special day, but the priority is always your club. Especially when the club is in it, you're going to do whatever you can to improve your situation."

"The season is what matters," Lincecum said. "This [the All-Star Game] is cherry on the cake."

Mussina's turnaround starts with being healthy: Mike Mussina didn't make the All-Star team but he's had a resurgence this season with a 3.64 ERA and 11 victories.

"I just think it's being healthy," Mussina told Newsday. "Last year was just one thing after another. I got hurt [strained left hamstring] my second game of the year last year, and it kind of snowballed from there. It was a struggle all year. This year I've been healthy the whole time, knock on wood, and hopefully I can do the second half the way I've done the first."

Hundley's desert debut a dandy: Padres catcher Nick Hundley was honored to make his Major League debut on July 4 in Arizona -- the very place where he played three seasons for the University of Arizona.

"It's great to be back here," Hundley told MLB.com. "I went to a bunch of games here when I was in college. I have seen those guys [Diamondbacks] play. It's nice to be back in Arizona."

In the game, which was attended by his parents, Tim and Pam, as well as his girlfriend and additional family members, he picked up his first Major League hit.

Masterson effective under pressure: Just over a month ago, Red Sox pitcher Justin Masterson was pitching for the Double-A Portland Sea Dogs. On July 5 he found himself pitching against the New York Yankees, and he rose to the occasion by working six innings and giving up just two runs.

"It's awesome to be here in Yankee Stadium," Masterson told the Boston Herald. "I've been watching these games for a long time, Red Sox-Yankees. They've been on constantly. Some of it is like 'Oh, man, look where I'm at,' but most of it is me saying, 'Hey, I need to continue to be effective.' I've got a job to do here, because everyone else in the clubhouse is doing theirs."

Shoppach's average on the rise: Kelly Shoppach has done an impressive job for the Indians of stepping in for the injured Victor Martinez. Hitting .221 as a part-time player, Shoppach has raised his average to .265 and has five home runs since being given the starting opportunity.

"He's doing a good job," manager Eric Wedge told MLB.com. "I think he's getting more comfortable with the role of catching every day and everything that goes along with that mentally and physically. Now, he just has to make sure that he keeps himself grounded and doesn't take anything for granted. I think it's important for him to come to the ballpark with the same approach, same attitude, same vision each day, because that's really what it takes to be successful and be a starting player."

Lidge to make Philly his home: Brad Lidge, perfect in save opportunities with a 1.00 ERA, has extended his contract with the Phillies.

"I knew right away that this would be a good opportunity for me to play for a team that's competing every single year to go to the playoffs, to win a World Series," Lidge told MLB.com.

Eyre recalls epic turnaround: Scott Eyre knows the success stories that the second half of the season can bring. Last year, he posted a 6.60 ERA in the first half and rebounded with a 0.81 ERA in the second half.

"My teammates made a huge impact on my life last year," Eyre told MLB.com. "I was miserable. I didn't want to talk to anybody. I just kind of moped around. [Kerry Wood and Ryan Dempster] had a lot to do with my second half."

Inglett making presence felt in lineup: Having played some second base, third base, left field and right field, Joe Inglett is well on his way to establishing career highs in most offensive categories. As of July 6, he's batting .306 with two home runs, five doubles, four triples, 14 runs scored and 17 RBIs.

"Since I've been here, he's been absolutely outstanding," Blue Jays manager Cito Gaston told MLB.com. "I'm not so sure if he can't hit left-handers. We haven't tried it yet, but we might have to, one of these days. We'll see. He's done great."

Mulder lands back in starting rotation: After making his first two career relief appearances last week, Mark Mulder will be back in the rotation on July 9 when the Cardinals take on the Phillies. Manager Tony La Russa said the decision to use Mulder was an easy one.

"He's starter material and we have a spot in the rotation," La Russa told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. "He's the guy who fits it best."

Meche has fond memories of selection: Gil Meche was selected for the All-Star Game in 2007 in San Francisco and has plenty of great memories.

"To be honest, when you get there, you feel like you don't belong," Meche told the Kansas City Star. "You're surrounded by guys who have been All Stars 10 times. It's an awesome honor. I just tried to take it all in. You're a little nervous in a way. You just don't know what to expect, but it's awesome. The best part about it is you realize, 'You know what? I'm a big league All-Star.' There's no better way to describe it."

Volstad earns the win in debut: Marlins 2005 first-round draft pick Chris Volstad made his Major League debut on July 6, pitching two innings of scoreless relief. He picked up the win as Florida defeated Colorado 10-5. Volstad will join the starting rotation Friday when the Marlins travel to Los Angeles to take on the Dodgers.

"Oh, my gosh, it's going to be awesome," Volstad told the South Florida Sun-Sentinel. "Lot of history there. That's one of the best places I could think of to make your first start."

Hip continues to sideline Oswalt: Roy Oswalt is still not certain when he'll make his next start as he tries to work through a strained left hip abductor. He was scheduled to throw off of flat ground July 7 and throw a bullpen session on July 8 before being re-evaluated.

"We're not going to do anything to put him in jeopardy," general manager Ed Wade told the Houston Chronicle. "It's got to be the feedback we get from him, and we made that clear to him [Friday] before [head athletic trainer] Dave [Labossiere] was able to get him scheduled to get out of here."

-- Red Line Editorial