Carl Crawford pulled back a home run with a leaping grab an inning before Curtis Granderson tripled and scored the tiebreaking run in the eighth to give the American League (AL) a 4-3 victory over the National League (NL) on Tuesday.
“It was definitely probably the best catch I ever made,” said Crawford, the MVP. “I didn’t think it was going to carry that far, but it carried and I just had to find the wall, make the adjustment and make the play on it.”
The AL has won seven straight games since 2002’s 7-7, 11-inning tie at Milwaukee and has won 12 games and tied one since its 1996 defeat at Philadelphia — the longest unbeaten streak in All-Star history.
The AL has won all seven times the All-Star game has been used to determine home-field advantage for the World Series.
Not even US President Barack Obama’s ceremonial first pitch at the new Busch Stadium helped the NL, which had been 4-0 previously when sitting presidents threw out the first offering. The NL scored all its runs in the second inning, and 22 of its last 24 batters made out.
AL manager Joe Maddon credited his bullpen “stallions” of Jonathan Papelbon, Joe Nathan and Mariano Rivera.
Starting with Hanley Ramirez’s groundout off starting pitcher Roy Halladay that ended the second innings, AL pitchers retired 18 consecutive batters before Adrian Gonzalez’s two-out walk in the eighth against Joe Nathan. Orlando Hudson singled and, with pinch-hitter Ryan Howard at the plate, stole second before Howard struck out.
Rivera pitched a 1-2-3 ninth for his record fourth All-Star save, breaking a tie with Dennis Eckersley and giving him eight All-Star innings over eight appearances with no earned runs.
Adam Jones drove in Granderson with a sacrifice fly off loser Heath Bell, helping the AL narrow its deficit against the senior circuit to 40-38-2. With four straight one-run victories, the AL matched the All-Star record for consecutive one-run games, set when the NL won from 1965 to 1968.
For the AL, pitching and defense was the key in the first All-Star game without a home run since 1999 at Boston’s Fenway Park.
And at 2 hours, 31 minutes, it was the fastest one since 1988.
“The whole game was centered around pitching,” NL manager Charlie Manuel said.
Crawford, who entered with a pinch single in the fifth, jumped at the 2.5m left-field wall to snare Brad Hawpe’s leadoff drive in the seventh off Papelbon, which would have put the NL ahead 4-3.
“Wow, what a catch,” Papelbon said on the mound.
Halladay, Mark Buehrle, Zack Greinke, Edwin Jackson, Felix Hernandez, Papelbon and Nathan came two outs shy of the All-Star record for consecutive outs, set by the NL in 1968.
Granderson sparked the offense with a one-out triple in the eighth off the bottom of the left-field wall. The drive went over Justin Upton, normally a right fielder, who took a bit of a circuitous route. Bell intentionally walked Victor Martinez, and Jones followed with a fly to deep right.
Jayson Werth also had a great grab for the NL, running down Justin Morneau’s drive to deep left-center off Francisco Rodriguez to end the ninth.
Given a 40-second ovation before the game by adoring red-clad Cardinals fans in the sellout crowd of 46,760, Albert Pujols went 0 for 3 in six innings, made an error at first base in a two-run first and also had some nice defensive plays.