NEW YORK - Mariano Rivera reported early for work, and walked off to a fitting tribute.

Summoned in the eighth inning to make sure he would pitch in his final All-Star Game, the New York Yankees' indomitable closer got three straight outs and soaked up a pair of standing ovations while helping the American League to a 3-0 win over the National League on Tuesday night at Citi Field.

"I wanted to pitch," said Rivera, who took home the MVP trophy. "I think the plan was perfect."

"Mo" and nine other pitchers combined on a three-hitter, and Sabino High School grad J.J. Hardy beat out a potential double play for an RBI as the AL snapped a three-game skid and regained home-field advantage in the World Series. After giving up a double to Arizona's Paul Goldschmidt in the ninth, Joe Nathan saved it in Rivera's place after the American League scratched out a third run on an RBI double from Jason Kipnis.

Harvey and opposing starter Max Scherzer were among a record 39 first-time All-Stars in a game with four precocious players 21 or younger - baseball's next generation.

Both came out throwing 99 mph heat, but it was Rivera, at 43 the oldest All-Star since Carlton Fisk in 1991, who was the center of attention in his farewell season. And on this night, with drug suspensions still looming for some of the game's biggest names, the spotlight found a player who is almost universally respected.

Baseball's career saves leader 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 90 seconds to take in a stirring ovation.

"It was a great moment. He is one of the best pitchers that's ever played this game," the Tigers' Torii Hunter said.

Players on both sides clapped from the top of the dugout steps, and Rivera tipped his cap to the crowd.

Then he went to work, retiring three straight hitters on 16 pitches - all cutters, as usual - before walking off to another ovation and getting a hug from Detroit ace Justin Verlander, who said, "That's something that I will never forget."

Exit, Sandman.

Next stop, the Hall of Fame.

"It was tough. It was special," said an emotional Rivera, who got the game ball from Nathan and gave his hat to a Hall of Fame representative to display in Cooperstown.

"Seeing the fans sharing and both teams standing out of the dugout, managers, coaches, players - priceless."

It was the latest salute to Rivera, set to retire after this year. The 13-time All-Star is on a farewell tour, receiving creative gifts at each ballpark he visits for the final time. He got a rocking chair made of broken bats in Minnesota.

Rivera has thrown nine scoreless innings in All-Star play. The only older pitcher to appear in an All-Star Game was 47-year-old Satchel Paige 60 years ago, according to STATS.

AL manager Jim Leyland promised Rivera would pitch. So rather than risk waiting for a save chance that might never come, the Detroit skipper made his call one inning earlier than Rivera is accustomed.

Winning pitcher Chris Sale from the White Sox worked two perfect innings for the AL, which posted its third shutout and first since 1990 at Wrigley Field to trim the NL lead to 43-39-2 in All-Star Games.

In the top of the fourth, Miguel Cabrera delivered a leadoff double against loser Patrick Corbin of the Diamondbacks, 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 doubled against Lee to start the fifth and scored on teammate Hardy's fielder choice. It was the first All-Star RBI for Hardy, who started the game at shortstop and went 0 for 2.

Hardy was an NL reserve for Milwaukee in the 2007 All-Star Game and walked in the ninth.

How they fared

J.J. Hardy, SS, Orioles

Former Sabino star was 0 for 2 but had an RBI

Mark Melancon, P, Pirates

The former UA hurler did not enter the game