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On This Date in Sports July 15, 2008

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In its final season, Yankee Stadium plays host to the All-Star Game for the first time in 31 years. The game would turn into a marathon, needing nearly five hours and 15 innings to decide the winner, both setting records for the longest All-Star Game in MLB history. The American League would win the game 4-3 with Justin Morneau of the Minnesota Twins scoring on a sacrifice fly by Michael Young of the Texas Rangers.

As a new stadium was being built across the street, the original Yankee Stadium held one last grand event as it hosted the 2008 All-Star Game. The American League had been the dominant team entering the mid-summer classic, with ten straight wins, excluding the 2002 game, which ended in a tie. It was the was the sixth year of the new format with the winner of the game-deciding who would hold home field during the World Series. Terry Francona of the Boston Red Sox was the leader of the American League squad while Clint Hurdle of the Colorado Rockies managed the National League.

Cliff Lee of the Cleveland Indians started the game for the American League, while Ben Sheets from the Milwaukee Brewers made the start for the National League. Both pitchers both pitchers allowed just one hit while pitching two scoreless innings. Joe Saunders of the Los Angeles Angels and Roy Halladay of the Toronto Blue Jays followed with scoreless innings in the third and fourth, while Carlos Zambrano of the Chicago Cubs pitched two innings.

In the fifth inning, the National League got on the board first as Matt Holliday of the Rockies led off with a home run against Angels pitcher Ervin Santana. Dan Haren of the Arizona Diamondbacks continued to keep the AL scoreless in the fifth. Meanwhile, the National League added to their lead in the sixth as Hanley Ramirez of the Florida Marlins and Chase Utley of the Philadelphia Phillies started the inning with a pair of singles off Oakland Athletics pitcher Justin Duchscherer. Lance Berkman of the Houston Astros followed with a sacrifice flying scoring Ramirez to make it 2-0.  Haren added a second scoreless inning in the sixth, while Joe Nathan of the Twins shut down the NL in the seventh.

The American League finally broke through in the bottom of the seventh as Justin Morneau of the Twins hit a leadoff double against Cincinnati Reds hurler Edinson Volquez. After Volquez set down the next two batters, J. D. Drew of the Red Sox hit a line drive into the stands to tie the game 2-2. Boston Closer Jonathan Papelbon came on to pitch the eighth and found immediate trouble as Astros shortstop Miguel Tejada led off with a single. Tejada than stole second and advanced to third on an error by Tampa Bay Rays catcher Dioner Navarro. Adrien Gonzalez of the San Diego Padres followed with a sacrifice fly to put the NL in front 3-2. Trying to close out their first All-Star win since 2006, Brian Wilson of the San Francisco Giants recorded the first two outs in the eighth inning, before being relieved by Billy Wagner of the New York Mets. Wagner struggled; allowing a single to Cleveland’s Grady Sizemore and later stole second. He would come into score on a ground rule double by Rays rookie Evan Longoria to tie the game 3-3.

The game would remain tied deep into the Bronx night as Francisco Rodriguez of the Angels, Mariano Rivera of the New York Yankees Yankees, Joakim Soria of the Kansas City Royals, George Sherrill of the Baltimore Orioles and Scott Kazmir of the Rays kept the game tied into the 15th inning. The National League countered with Ryan Dempster of the Cubs, Aaron Cook of the Rockies, Carlos Marmol of the Cubs and Brandon Webb of the Diamondbacks. The NL had a threat in the 12th inning loading the bases with one out. However, Soria got Dan Uggla of the Marlins to strikeout, before Sherrill came on and struck out Adrien Gonzalez to keep the game tied.

Brad Lidge of the Phillies came on for the 15th inning, looking to continue the marathon. The 15 innings matched the longest All-Star Game in terms of innings played with the 1967 game played at Anaheim Stadium.  The game was also the longest in terms of time played as it was well past midnight, with the game heading for five hours in length. The American League rally started with a single by Twins star Justin Morneau. After a lineout by Ian Kinsler of the Texas Rangers, Navarro singled to put the winning run in scoring position. J.D. Drew was walked to load the bases, setting up Michael Young of the Rangers to play hero in the All-Star Game again. Young stroked the ball to right field, where it was caught by Corey Hart of the Brewers. Hart made a perfect throw home, but Morneau slid in just ahead of the tag by Atlanta Braves Catcher Brian McCann to give the American League a 5-4 win.

The 5-4 win for the American League in 15 innings marked the first time the junior circuit won an All-Star Game in extra innings. With the exception, the 2002 tie game in Milwaukee, the National League won all the previous nine All-Star Games that went more than nine innings. The game ended at 1:38 AM, just ten minutes short of needing five hours to be played. For his big game-tying Homer Run, J.D. Drew was named All-Star Game MVP. It was also the second All-Star Game in which Michal Young drove home the winning run. Young had previously won the 2003 All-Star Game in which he was named MVP. Dan Uggla of the Marlins, meanwhile had a game to forget, committing three errors, while striking out three times and hitting into a double play.