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AL's win begins and ends with Yanks

AL's win begins and ends with Yanks

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ST. LOUIS -- The Yankees' mission objective from the first days of Spring Training is to get to the season's finish line, and the club's three representatives in the Midsummer Classic had a hand Tuesday in helping to secure home-field advantage in those games.

Derek Jeter, Mark Teixeira and Mariano Rivera all played prominent roles in the American League's 4-3 victory over the National League in the 2009 All-Star Game at Busch Stadium. Jeter scored the game's first run on a ball hit by Teixeira, and Rivera nailed down the final three outs for his record-setting fourth Midsummer Classic save.

"That's what we came here to do," Rivera said. "We came here with a mission, and our mission was accomplished. It was a great game from both sides. I think the city of St. Louis did a tremendous job of hosting this All-Star Game. I am grateful for that."

It was the 12th victory in 13 seasons and the seventh in a row for the AL, which hasn't lost in the All-Star Game since 1996.

"Everyone keeps talking about the winning streak that we have, but there have been a lot of games that could have gone either way," Jeter said. "It says a lot about our pitching. They have great players and a great team, but we're just fortunate."

In the top of the first inning, Jeter was hit in the left hand by a 1-2 Tim Lincecum changeup, leading to the AL's first run. After Jeter moved up on a fielder's-choice ground ball, Teixeira smacked a hot grounder that eluded hometown hero Albert Pujols at first base, allowing Jeter to trot home on the error. Jeter also scored the game-tying run in the fifth on a Joe Mauer double.

"It's the luck of the bounce," Teixeira said. "Really, there were a couple of key defensive plays that could have gone either way. There wasn't a lot of hitting. Maybe one ball drops in and one ball doesn't drop in, and it's a different game."

Teixeira went hitless in three trips, hitting the ball to first base each time. After the AL took a one-run lead in the eighth inning, when Curtis Granderson tripled and scored on a sacrifice fly by Adam Jones, Rivera was summoned for the ninth inning and shut down the NL in a 13-pitch appearance.

Rivera said he followed the advice of President Barack Obama, who visited the visitors' clubhouse before Tuesday's game and wowed players with his baseball knowledge.

"He was quite interesting -- he was wonderful," Rivera said. "He knew about the cutter, which was great. He said, 'Keep throwing that cutter.' Outstanding. I always wanted to meet him, and I thank God I had the chance."

Jeter was also left buzzing about the visit from Obama, who greeted him as one of the senior members of the AL roster. Always sensitive about his age, Jeter corrected him, using the word "veteran."

"It was real nice," Jeter said. "It was nice to get the opportunity to meet him. It was probably the thing I'll take most out of this All-Star Game. He just said that he was a fan. That's kind of hard to believe when you think about presidents, but that's pretty nice to hear."

The Yankees' representatives spent the early part of the afternoon raving about their experiences at this year's All-Star events, each of them impressed at how the color-coordinated streets of St. Louis embraced their arrival.

While being careful to note that nobody treats them better than New York fans, the visiting Bronx Bombers couldn't help but notice how passionate the assembled masses are in this city.

"They have great fans here -- everyone wears red," Jeter said. "That's like a rule, right? You've got to wear red."

Before Tuesday's game, Rivera's sons were bouncing around the visitors' clubhouse at Busch Stadium in uniform, tossing baseballs and procuring autographs from the AL's players. Rivera said his sons were "enjoying it more than me," and that was an accomplishment.

At age 39, Rivera does not know if this 10th All-Star team will also be his final one, and he is trying to soak up as much atmosphere as possible -- even ducking out of the clubhouse with his charge card before workouts to purchase items at a souvenir stand.

"I never thought that I would be able to be an All-Star, you know what I mean?" Rivera said. "I'm being honest. I just loved to play the game. Saying that, I have another year under contract, and we'll see what happens. I enjoy every minute of this, because maybe this will be my last one."

Across the room, Jeter dismissed another reference to his advancing stats -- "I'm not old," the 35-year-old said -- but the Yankees' captain allowed that he has enjoyed having the opportunity to engage the game's younger stars.

Hanley Ramirez, the Marlins' standout shortstop and NL's leadoff hitter, introduced Jeter to his mother on Monday. Mom, it turns out, is also a big Jeter fan.

"That's why you get an opportunity in these All-Star Games to get to know these guys," Jeter said. "When you're playing against them, it's basically 'Hello' at second base or in the batter's box, and that's about it. Here, you get a chance to get to know them a little bit."

Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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