The Atlanta Braves will have a big say in determining who has home-field advantage in the World Series.
Seven members of the Braves were named to the National League team on Sunday for next week's All-Star Game at Chicago's U.S. Cellular Field.
The Seattle Mariners, St. Louis Cardinals, and Oakland Athletics, with four apiece, are the only other teams to place more than three players on the rosters for the 74th "Midsummer Classic."
"It's a tribute to what these guys have done," said Braves closer John Smoltz, a six-time All-Star. "It rewards these guys for a great first half."
For the first time, the outcome will impact postseason play, with the winning league gaining home-field advantage in the World Series. That has particular significance for the Braves who lead the NL East.
Smoltz, who could be called upon to close the game, said the stakes almost certainly will be in the back of his mind.
"I'm sure (they) will, whether I want (them) to or not," he added. "You just don't want to embarrass yourself. Hopefully, my thoughts will remain the same."
Catcher Javy Lopez, second baseman Marcus Giles and outfielder Gary Sheffield will start for the Braves. While the starters were chosen via fan balloting, a separate ballot of managers, players and coaches determined reserves and the pitching staffs. That added four Braves to the NL team. Smoltz joins shortstop Rafael Furcal, outfielder Andruw Jones and righthander Russ Ortiz on the bench.
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