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Soriano remains in All-Star Game hunt

Soriano remains in All-Star Game hunt

CHICAGO -- The Cubs' Alfonso Soriano is holding steady among the top 15 National League outfielders in this week's balloting for the All-Star Game, released Monday.

Philadelphia's Raul Ibanez leads all NL outfielders for the third week, topping Milwaukee's Ryan Braun. Soriano is vying for his eighth straight trip to the All-Star Game, which will be played July 14 in St. Louis.

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In 2008, the Cubs sent a National League-record eight players to the All-Star Game as well as manager Lou Piniella.

Kosuke Fukudome fell out of the top 15 for outfielders, but his recent success may help him garner a few more votes. The Japanese outfielder went 4-for-5 on Saturday against the Cleveland Indians. Piniella noted that Fukudome was stroking the ball well, had a nice, quick swing and was using the whole field.

"That's one of the nicest days he's had in a while," Piniella said.

Fukudome is looking for his second trip to the All-Star Game. He celebrated his 32nd birthday April 26 with a five RBIs game against the Cardinals, going 3-for-4 with a home run.

Soriano has a .357 average in the All-Star Game, including three home runs. He belted his 54th career leadoff homer on June 2 in Atlanta to move past Craig Biggio into sole possession of second all-time in leadoff home runs. Rickey Henderson is first with 81. The Cubs left fielder got off to a hot start with a .284 April and seven home runs but has been struggling lately. He did draw two walks on Friday against Cleveland, and scored the winning run on Ryan Theriot's walkoff RBI single.

"I've been struggling at home plate," Soriano said. "But I come every day with the same energy to try to win the game and play 100 percent. That's my [attitude]. I like to play baseball and enjoy my time when I play baseball.

"The most important thing for me is to keep playing," he said. "I'm not going to play perfect in 162 games. I know stuff is going to happen. I have to know how to get out of a slump. It's going to happen to every player who plays this game."

Soriano did hit .333 last July, so maybe there's a hot streak on the horizon.

Fans can cast their votes for starters up to 25 times with the 2009 All-Star Game Sprint Online Ballot at MLB.com and all 30 club sites until July 2 at 11:59 p.m. ET.

Starting rosters will be announced during the 2009 All-Star Game Selection Show presented by Chevrolet on TBS on July 5. Baseball fans around the world will then be able to select the final player on each team via the 2009 All-Star Game Sprint Final Vote at MLB.com.

And the voting doesn't end there. Fans will have the opportunity to participate in the official voting for the Ted Williams Most Valuable Player Award presented by Chevrolet at the Midsummer Classic via the 2009 All-Star Game Sprint MVP Vote at MLB.com.

The All-Star Game will be televised nationally by FOX and around the world by Major League Baseball International. ESPN Radio will provide exclusive national radio play-by-play, while MLB.com will offer extensive online coverage.

Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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