NEW YORK — Mariano Rivera reported for work an inning early, and walked off to a fitting tribute.
Summoned in the eighth to make sure he would pitch in his final All-Star Game, the New York Yankees’ indomitable closer tossed a perfect inning and soaked up a pair of standing ovations while helping the American League to a 3-0 victory over the National League on Tuesday night at Citi Field.
Rivera, who took home MVP honors, and nine other pitchers combined on a three-hitter for the AL, which snapped a three-game losing streak and regained home-field advantage in the World Series.
Texas’ Joe Nathan saved it in Rivera’s place after the American League scratched out a pair of runs and got an RBI double from Cleveland’s Jason Kipnis.
The Yankees’ Robinson Cano hobbled off early after getting hit by a pitch from crosstown rival Matt Harvey of the hometown Mets. X-rays were negative, and Cano said he shouldn’t miss any games for the Yankees.
Harvey and opposing starter Max Scherzer of Detroit were among a record 39 first-time All-Stars in a game that featured four players 21 or younger — baseball’s next generation.
Both pitchers came out throwing 99 mph heat, but it was Rivera, at 43 the oldest All-Star
since 1991, who was the center of attention in his farewell season.
He came in from the bullpen to Metallica’s “Enter Sandman” just like across town at Yankee Stadium, and was left alone on the field for more than a minute to take in a rousing ovation.
“It was a great moment. He is one of the best pitchers that’s ever played this game,” Tigers outfielder Torii Hunter said.
Players on both sides clapped from the top of the dugout steps, and he tipped his cap to the crowd.
Then he went to work, retiring three hitters in a row on 16 pitches before walking off to another ovation.
“It was tough. It was special,” an emotional Rivera said. “Seeing the fans sharing and both teams standing out of the dugout, managers, coaches players, priceless.”
It was the ninth All-Star Game in New York — most for any city — and second in five years after a farewell to old Yankee Stadium in 2008. But the only other time the Mets hosted was during Shea Stadium’s debut season in 1964, when Philadelphia Phillies outfielder Johnny Callison hit a game-ending homer in the ninth.
This one gave the struggling Mets a chance to pack their cozy ballpark for one of the few times all season.
Fans chanted Harvey’s name during pregame introductions, and the 24-year-old sensation delivered with three strikeouts in two shutout innings.
He walked off to a standing ovation and received a pat on the back from NL manager Bruce Bochy of the San Francisco Giants, the defending World Series champions.
Harvey was the youngest All-Star starting pitcher since former Mets ace Dwight Gooden was 23 a quarter-century ago — and the first from the home team since Houston’s Roger Clemens in 2004. Gooden cheered Harvey on from the stands.
All the buildup might have made the phenom a little too excited at the start. Mike Trout of the Angels doubled inside first base on his opening pitch, and Harvey drilled Cano just above the right knee with a 96 mph fastball on the third.
In obvious pain, Cano initially stayed in the game but limped off after Triple Crown winner Miguel Cabrera of the Tigers struck out.
Cano crossed in front of the mound while heading to the dugout, and Harvey patted himself on the chest.
“I didn’t mean to, obviously,” Harvey said. “I feel terrible. Apologies go out to him.”
Cano has a bruised quadriceps but said he’ll be ready to play when the Yankees come out of the All-Star break.
“Just a little tight,” Cano said. “I’ll be good for Friday.”
Mets teammate David Wright trotted over from third base for a calming chat with Harvey, who whiffed Toronto’s Jose Bautista to end the inning.
Cabrera’s bat slipped out of his hands on a swing and sailed 10-15 rows deep into the stands, where it nearly clipped a fan wearing a Cano jersey.
Cabrera’s next cut produced a leadoff double in the fourth, and Bautista’s sacrifice fly snapped a 17-inning scoreless streak for the AL that dated to Adrian Gonzalez’s homer off Cliff Lee two years ago in Arizona.
Baltimore’s Adam Jones, a former Seattle Mariner, wore bright orange high-tops as he doubled against Lee, also a former Mariner, to start the fifth inning.
Jones scored when Hardy beat out a potential double play.
Kipnis doubled home a run in the eighth off Atlanta closer Craig Kimbrel.