ST. LOUIS - Carl Crawford's glove and a dominant bullpen helped save the American League's All-Star game streak.
Crawford, a Tampa Bay outfielder, pulled back a home run with a leaping grab an inning before Detroit's Curtis Granderson tripled and scored the tiebreaking run in the eighth, giving the AL a 4-3 victory last night over the National League at the new Busch Stadium.
The AL has won seven straight games since 2002's 7-7, 11-inning tie at Milwaukee and is 12-0-1 since its 1996 defeat at Philadelphia - the longest unbeaten streak in history. The AL has won all seven times the game has been used to determine home-field advantage for the World Series.
Not even President Obama's ceremonial first pitch 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.
Starting with Florida shortstop Hanley Ramirez's groundout off Blue Jays starter Roy Halladay that ended the second, AL pitchers retired 18 consecutive batters before San Diego first baseman Adrian Gonzalez's two-out walk in the eighth against Minnesota's Joe Nathan. Los Angeles Dodger Orlando Hudson singled and, with pinch-hitter Ryan Howard of Philadelphia at the plate,
stole second before Howard struck out.
NAM Y. HUH / AP Enlarge
The New York Yankees' Mariano 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.
Baltimore's Adam Jones drove in Granderson with a sacrifice fly off loser Heath Bell of San Diego, 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 1965-68.
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.
Crawford, the MVP, jumped at the 8-foot left-field wall and snared Colorado outfielder Brad Hawpe's leadoff drive in the seventh off Boston closer Jonathan Papelbon, which would have been a tiebreaking home run.
"Wow, what a catch," Papelbon said on the mound.
Halladay, the Chicago White Sox' Mark Buehrle, Kansas City's Zack Greinke, Detroit's Edwin Jackson, Seattle's 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 for Arizona, who took a bit of a circuitous route. Bell intentionally walked Cleveland's Victor Martinez, and Jones followed with a fly to deep right.
Philadelphia's Jayson Werth also had a great grab for the NL, running down Minnesota first baseman Justin Morneau's drive to deep left-center off Francisco Rodriguez of the New York Mets 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, St. Louis' 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.
He made diving stops on Jeter and New York Yankee first baseman Mark Teixeira in the fifth, throwing out Seattle's Ichiro Suzuki at second from his knees after Jeter's grounder.
Eight Anheuser-Busch Clydesdales paraded around the warning track, beginning a nearly hourlong pregame ceremony that culminated in the introduction of Cardinals Hall of Famer Stan Musial, followed by President Obama.
Wearing sneakers, jeans and a jacket of his home state White Sox, Obama was greeted by cheers mixed with a few boos as he came out of the first-base dugout, shook hands with the 88-year-old Musial and went to the mound. The lanky president stood on the pitching rubber and threw left-handed from a windup.
Obama became the fourth president to throw out the ceremonial first pitch at an All-Star game,
following John F. Kennedy (1962 first game), Richard Nixon (1970) and Gerald Ford (1976 and 1978). All those games were won by the NL.
With the All-Star game back in St. Louis for the first time since the NL won 2-1 in 10 innings across the street at old Busch Stadium in 1966, the AL broke on top 2-0 in the first against San Francisco's Tim Lincecum with the help of an error by Pujols.
Suzuki singled, Jeter was hit on an arm with a pitch and Teixeira hit a one-out bouncer that bounced above the first baseman's glove and off him. Jeter came around from second on the error, and Texas' Josh Hamilton hit a two-out RBI grounder.38.62774 -90.19952
Carl Crawford's glove and a dominant bullpen helped save the American League's All-Star game streak.