New York Yankees closer Mariano Rivera made his final appearance in baseball's mid-summer classic one for the storybooks, throwing a perfect eighth inning and receiving a standing ovation from his peers during the American League's 3-0 victory over the National League at the All-Star Game.
The 43-year-old Rivera, who has announced he will retire after this season, entered Tuesday night's game an inning earlier than usual because AL manager Jim Leyland did not want to take the chance the NL might rally against another hurler and deny him the chance to pitch.
The most dramatic moment of the evening came before the start of the bottom of the eighth inning, when Rivera's AL teammates remained in their dugout at Citi Field - home of the New York Mets - and allowed the closer to jog onto the field all alone and soak in the applause from fans and players alike.
The 13-time All Star - widely regarded as the greatest closer in baseball history and famed for his bat-shattering cutter, often the only pitch he throws - doffed his cap to all sections of the crowd before starting his warm-up throws.
His catcher, infielders and outfielders then took their positions and the Yankees great retired all three batters he faced, earning the game's Most Valuable Player honors for his efforts.
The Panamanian, who made an outstanding recovery from an ACL tear in his right knee last year and earned his All-Star Game selection by recording a 1.83 ERA and 30 saves in the first half of the season, was one of 10 American League pitchers who took the mound and combined for the shutout.
Toronto Blue Jays outfielder Jose Bautista drove in the first run of the game in the top of the fourth inning, hitting a sacrifice fly to center field that brought in Detroit Tigers slugger Miguel Cabrera from third base.
The following inning, Baltimore Orioles shortstop J.J. Hardy knocked in teammate Adam Jones with a groundout to give the AL a 2-0 lead.
The final run then came in the top of the eighth, when Cleveland Indians second baseman Jason Kipnis stroked a double to left field that drove in Kansas City Royals catcher Salvador Perez.
Chris Sale of the Chicago White Sox pitched a perfect third and fourth innings to get the win, while Arizona Diamondbacks pitcher Patrick Corbin, who gave up the game's first run, was credited with the loss.
Texas Rangers closer Joe Nathan gave up one hit in the ninth but struck out two batters and picked up the save.
In a scary moment for the Yankees, second baseman Robinson Cano was hit in leg by New York Mets pitcher Matt Harvey in the top of the first inning and had to leave the game.
X-rays, however, came back negative, and he was diagnosed with a right quad contusion. EFE