Rivera takes a bow as AL shuts down NL

The Phillies' Cliff Lee delivers for the National League. He gave up a run on two hits in the fifth inning.
The Phillies' Cliff Lee delivers for the National League. He gave up a run on two hits in the fifth inning. (   MIKE EHRMANN / Getty)
Posted: July 18, 2013

NEW YORK - The greatest closer ever stood alone. Metallica's power chords were drowned out by the cheers of an entire stadium and its two dugouts. Mariano Rivera gazed upon them all and removed his Yankees cap. It was 10:51 p.m. on Tuesday when baseball's poetry overcame a 43-year-old Panamanian.

This, the 84th All-Star Game, was a celebration for Rivera in his final season. It produced an indelible moment when "Enter Sandman" played and Rivera jogged from the bullpen to an empty field across town from where his legend was born. The American League won, 3-0, and Rivera did not save it. Instead, he pitched the eighth because his presence was guaranteed then. It was required on this night.

"As soon as I heard the song," Domonic Brown said, "I started clapping right away."

The Phillies' two all-stars, Brown and Cliff Lee, contributed little in 3 hours and 6 minutes. Brown struck out on three pitches in his lone at-bat. A foolish fan interrupted Lee's outing in the fifth inning by storming the field. The AL dinged Lee for a run in the the inning.

This night will forever be remembered as Rivera's. He said he was almost moved to tears. He threw 16 pitches and all 16 were cutters. He pitched a perfect inning. The largest crowd ever at Citi Field came to see him; the fans were not disappointed.

"Everything has been a surprise this night," Rivera said.

The National League's hitters managed just three hits in the shutout. That last happened in 2001. Beyond Rivera's moment, this game was forgettable.

That distinction extended to the Phillies representatives. Lee's lasting image happened before the game even started. The Mets fans booed every National League East player, with special emphasis on the two Phillies. Brown tipped his hat and smiled. An emotionless Lee stared into the camera.

"I must be doing something right," Brown said. "They didn't boo me before."

Brown did not enter until the sixth inning. He was the first person to emerge from the home dugout. He sprinted to his position in left field.

The game started at 8:19 p.m. when 24-year-old flamethrower Matt Harvey fired a 97-m.p.h. fastball to 21-year-old superstar Mike Trout. The Millville native slapped it inside first base for a double. He belly-flopped into second base and clapped. The temperature was 90 degrees, and baseball flaunted its exuberant youth.

This game featured 39 first-time all-stars, a record. No National League hitter reached until the fourth inning, when Carlos Beltran singled. AL pitchers retired the first 10 in order. The AL jumped to a 2-0 lead rather boringly with a sacrifice fly and fielder's choice.

Lee permitted the second run. Baltimore's Adam Jones greeted him with a double to left. Joe Mauer singled off shortstop Troy Tulowitzki's glove. That's when the fan interrupted play. He dashed to the second base bag before raising his arms in surrender. A security guard speared him anyway. The crowd emitted a collective laugh.

Lee stared from the mound as the most memorable part of his outing transpired. When play resumed, J.J. Hardy grounded out to second and Jones scored. Trout followed. He fell behind 0-2 and nubbed a Lee cutter into an inning-ending double play.

The Phillies used to have deep interest in the victor of the Midsummer Classic. But home-field advantage for the World Series is secondary to a .500 team clinging to contention in July. Brown was on deck when Pedro Alvarez popped to second for the 27th out.

"I was over there dreaming," Brown said. "We'll have to settle for next year."


Contact Matt Gelb at mgelb@phillynews.com.

Follow on Twitter @magelb.

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