ST. LOUIS -- The theme of the night was all about heroes.
And with the score even after seven innings on a night when a man from Chicago grew up to be a hero and threw out the first pitch, a speedy outfielder who attended the University of Illinois at Chicago became one in the 80th annual all-star game.
Curtis Granderson, a former Illinois-Chicago Flame, hit a one-out triple to left centre off reliever Heath Bell.
After an intentional walk, Adam Jones hit a scoring fly ball to right giving the American League a 4-3 win over the Nationals before a sold-out crowd of 46,760 fans at Busch Stadium in two hours and 31 minutes.
The AL has not lost the allstar game since 1996.
The NL had hoped to end their losing streak with former Cardinal Joe Torre managing.
Torre had a 13-2 record in all-star games as a player and a manager.
Carl Crawford was named the most valuable player stealing a home run from Brad Hawpe in the seventh.
"Sure surprised me," said Crawford of the honour.
"I was just happy that run didn't score."
"I've never seen him go over the wall," AL manager Joe Maddon said.
"He's a better base runner, a better defender. He told me he had some short comings when I took over and he wanted to address them."
Ryan Howard tried to be the hero after Adrian Gonzalez walked -- ending a string of 18 NLers going down in order -- and raced to third on an Orlando Hudson single.
Howard swung from his heels at Joe Nathan's 96 m.p.h. fastball.
After four more fastballs, Nathan struck out Howard on a breaking ball.
The pre-game honoured All-Stars Among Us, heroes from all 30 major-league cities.
Those who worked with cancer patients, to those who send Hero packages to soldiers in Iraq to Melanie Burton, 17, of Belleville, Ont.
Burton sent Christmas shoeboxes to war-torn countries and created Reading Rocks reading program when she was 11.
Burton has raised $6,500 for a literacy campaign.
Blue Jays second baseman Aaron Hill was 0-for-3 playing seven innings.
Jason Bay singled in a run against Tim Lincecum in the AL's two-run first and Justin Morneau entered the game in the seventh lining out and then flying out to the track in centre.
And Mariano Rivera set a record with his fourth all-star save, getting three quick outs to preserve the victory.
"Beautiful game," Rivera said.
"All these guys are stars. So you better bring your 'A' game."
The New York Yankees reliever broke the all-star saves mark he previously shared with Hall of Famer Dennis Eckersley, just the latest impressive line on a remarkable resume. He's pretty much done it all with one nasty pitch -- his cut fastball.
"It was great," Rivera, 39, said. "I think our guys gave me the opportunity to be there and I had to come in and shut it down."