CINCINNATI: Mike Trout smacked a solo home run and scored twice to spark the American League over the National League 6-3 on Tuesday (Wednesday in Manila) in the 86th Major League Baseball All-Star Game.
The 23-year-old Los Angeles Angels slugger became the first player named the All-Star Most Valuable Player in back-to-back years, having also led the AL to a 5-3 victory in 2014 with a double, triple and two runs batted in.
“It feels awesome,” Trout said. “I can’t explain the feeling. The whole experience, it has been so fun.”
The only other two-time All-Star Game Most Valuable Players were Cal Ripken Jr, Gary Carter, Steve Garvey and Willie Mays.
The result means the American League playoff champion will have the home-field advantage over the National League winner in October’s best-of-seven World Series championship showdown.
The American League’s third win in a row and 15th over the past 19 All-Star Games trimmed the National League’s lead in the all-time rivalry to 43-41 with two drawn.
Trout smashed a leadoff homer off Zack Greinke, who had not surrendered a run since June 13, over the right-field wall to give the American League a 1-0 lead.
Trout became the first leadoff batter in an All-Star clash to homer since Joe Morgan in 1977.
But the National League pulled level in the second inning.
Paul Goldschmidt hit an infield single and took second on a throwing error by American League third baseman Josh Donaldson.
Buster Posey, catcher for the World Series champion San Francisco Giants, grounded out to shortstop to advance Goldschmidt, who then crossed home plate with the tying run after Dominican shortstop Jhonny Peralta singled to right field.
The AL reclaimed the lead in the third inning off NL reliever Clayton Kershaw when Trout reached base on a fielder’s choice, advanced when Albert Pujols walked and scored when Prince Fielder singled to left field.
Pujols took second on the play and scored to make it 3-1 when Lorenzo Cain followed with a double to left field. Fiel-der reached third on the play but Brett Gardner struck out to end the inning.
“It was a great night,” Cain said. “I was able to knock in a run and we won. It was awesome. Just glad we got the win.”
National League leadoff hitter Andrew McCutchen smashed a solo homer to left field off the first pitch from AL reliever Chris Archer in the bottom of the sixth inning, trimming the AL lead to 3-2.
Together with Trout’s game-opening homer, it marked only the second time in All-Star Game history that each team’s leadoff batter blasted a homer, the other time coming 50 years ago when Mays and Dick McAuliffe achieved the feat.
Trout helped the AL score again in the seventh with a leadoff walk before being replaced by pinch-runner Brock Holt, who entered and promptly stole second base.
Manny Machado doubled in Holt to double the AL lead, then reached third on a Mark Teixeira ground out and scored on a Fielder sacrifice fly to centerfield, boosting the AL edge to 5-2.
Brian Dozier added a solo homer in the eighth inning for the AL, giving them their most runs in the All-Star matchup since 2005, but the NL answered in the bottom of the ninth with the final run when Ryan Braun tripled to right field and scored on a Brandon Crawford sacrifice fly.