NEW YORK — One by one they came out of the bullpen, hard throwers on a mission to shut down many of baseball’s top hitters.
Max Scherzer and Chris Sale. Felix Hernandez and Matt Moore.
Heat, heat and more heat.
Even with its own studs such as Matt Harvey and Clayton Kershaw, the National League couldn’t match up.
The AL’s 3-0 victory at Citi Field on Tuesday night was an arms showcase.
Scherzer, throwing at up to 99 mph, pitched a 1-2-3 first, and Sale followed with a pair of perfect innings. The NL managed just three hits.
The American League ended a string of three All-Star game defeats to earn home-field advantage for the 2013 World Series.
After losing the last three Midsummer Classics by an aggregate of 16-2, Miguel Cabrera and Adam Jones ripped lead-off doubles that led to runs in the fourth and fifth innings and Jason Kipnis doubled home another in the eighth.
Evergreen reliever Mariano Rivera was named the All-Star game MVP with Chris Sale of the Chicago White Sox earning the win as 10 AL pitchers combined on a three-hitter.
Patrick Corbin of the Arizona Diamondbacks, the third of eight National League pitchers, took the loss.
An emotional highlight came late in the game when Yankees closer Rivera came in from the bullpen to pitch the bottom of the eighth.
The 43-year-old, Major League Baseball's all-time saves leader who is retiring at the end of the season, was met with a standing ovation from the sold-out crowd at Citi Field.
With his AL team mates staying by the dugout to give Rivera a solitary moment, the closer doffed his cap in each direction to acknowledge the cheering fans before ending his 13th All-Star appearance by turning in a familiar one-two-three inning.
The American League snapped a 17-inning All-Star scoreless streak when Cabrera came around to score on a sacrifice fly by Jose Bautista off Patrick Corbin in the fourth.
The previous tally for the AL All-Stars had come in the fourth inning of the 2011 game in Arizona, which the National League won 5-1 before registering an 8-0 drubbing last year.
AL hitters went right back to work in the fifth against Cliff Lee. Adam Jones ripped a double to left, took third on a ground single to left by Joe Mauer and scored on a grounder by Orioles team mate J.J. Hardy.
Another double delivered the AL's third run in the eighth inning when Jason Kipnis hammered a Craig Kimbrel pitch that short-hopped the wall in left to drive home Salvador Perez.
This time, it was National League batters that struggled.
The first 10 NL hitters were set down in order by starter Scherzer and Chris Sale of the White Sox, before Felix Hernandez yielded a ground single to left by Carlos Beltran with one out in the fourth.
Pinch-runner Andrew McCutchen stole second base and moved to third on a weak grounder by Joey Votto before David Wright grounded out to third to end the threat.
Wright singled to left in the seventh and Paul Goldschmidt doubled in the ninth for the NL's only other hits.
Memorable moments for the home-field Mets fans came early.
Hall of Famer Tom Seaver, who in 1970 became the first Mets pitcher to start an All-Star game, threw out the ceremonial first pitch and won a standing ovation from the crowd.
The competitive first pitch was tossed by Mets' 24-year-old starter Matt Harvey, the youngest All-Star starter since Mets’ hurler Dwight “Doc” Gooden, who was 23 in the 1988 game.
Harvey gave up a double to Mike Trout with his first pitch of the game and then hit Yankees second baseman Robinson Cano with a 96 mph fastball just above the knee. Cano came out of the game as a precaution and X-rays were negative.
Harvey mowed down the next three batters and went another scoreless inning to the delight of the home crowd.
(Editing by Peter Rutherford)