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Balfour keeps his cool to help AL All-Stars ease to win

By Julian Linden

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Australian pitcher Grant Balfour was on his best behavior during Tuesday's All-Star Game at Citi Field, keeping his temper and opposing batters under control as he helped the American League team to a 3-0 win.

Balfour has developed a cult following among Oakland A's fans because of his tempestuous antics on the mound - which have become known as as the 'Balfour Rage'.

However, the 35-year-old Australian kept his cool on Tuesday with a brief but polished performance in the annual match-up between the best players in Major League Baseball.

"It was a great experience," he told reporters. "I just tried to settle myself down and enjoy it all and I thought I did a pretty good job."

Balfour became only the second Australian to play in the All-Star game, joining former Milwaukee Brewers catcher Dave Nilsson, who was picked for the 1999 Midsummer Classic.

Balfour was a late inclusion for the team after his Oakland team mate Bartolo Colon withdrew, although many thought the Australian should have been an original selection.

Although he struggled through the early stages of his career, Balfour is currently in the form of his life after being given the role of closer with the Athletics.

Since April last year, Balfour has completed 43 consecutive saves, including 25 this season.

He broke the previous Oakland franchise record, held by Hall of Famer Dennis Eckersley, and has played a major part in taking the A's to the top of the AL West standings.

"Playing in the All-Star Games was one of my goals, now I want to win a World Series," he said.

Balfour pitched just one inning on Tuesday, the sixth, but did enough to show he was not out a place in a roster that included Mariano Rivera and Justin Verlander.

After walking Michael Cuddyer, he got Bryce Harper to pop out to shortstop and Matt Carpenter to fly out to center.

Then Balfour struck out Andrew McCutchen, his eighth strike from his 15 pitches, to end the inning.

(Editing by John O'Brien)

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