Pitching, speed and a little bit of power. The National League is back on top in the All-Star game, using the same formula that worked during its dominating run in the 1970s and ’80s.
Prince Fielder hit a three-run homer and Roy Halladay and his relief combined on a six-hitter to lead the N.L. over the A.L. 5-1 Tuesday night at Phoenix, giving the senior circuit its first two-game winning streak since the mid-1990s.
The victory handed the N.L. home-field advantage in the World Series. With several big names as no-shows at Chase Field, the A.L. lost more than the game.
Boston right-hander Josh Beckett warmed up, then bowed out with a sore knee. Detroit slugger Miguel Cabrera left after hurting his side.
Even before they were hurt, many stars were missing. Justin Verlander, Felix Hernandez and many other aces started Sunday and were ineligible, Chipper Jones and Alex Rodriguez were among those on the disabled list and Derek Jeter wanted a break. In all, 16 of 84 All-Stars were dropped.
Tyler Clippard got the win despite allowing a single to Adrian Beltre, his only batter. Relievers Clayton Kershaw, Jair Jurrjens, Craig Kimbrel, Jonny Venters, Heath Bell, Joel Hanrahan and Brian Wilson combined to keep the N.L. ahead.
Fielder won the MVP award after becoming the first Brewers player to homer in an All-Star game. The World Series edge could help him later, with Milwaukee and St. Louis tied for the Central lead at the break.
The N.L. dashed around the bases and stole three bags, all in one inning. Bell showed some speed, too — the reliever ran in from the bullpen and tore up the turf with a slide just short of the mound.
In all, the Nationals have enjoyed their best run since taking three in a row from 1994-96 — they had lost 12 straight games played to a decision before a 3-1 victory at Anaheim last year.