SAN DIEGO -- The 63rd All-Star Game was supposed to be a pitched battle. The big swings were expected to disappear in the twilight's last gleaming and the game was expected to be another low-scoring affair.
But someone neglected to get that across to the American League lineup, which reeled off seven consecutive hits in the first inning and went on to crush the National League, 13-6, before a sellout crowd of 59,372 last night at Jack Murphy Stadium.
The rare All-Star blowout featured a record-tying run total and a record-breaking 19-hit attack from a balanced AL roster. Seattle Mariners outfielder Ken Griffey led the way with a three-hit performance that earned him the Most Valuable Player trophy.
"I thought the fans got a lot of entertainment," said Tom Kelly, who managed the American League to its fifth consecutive All-Star victory. "There was a whole lot of baseball stuff going on. I thought it was fun."
National League starter Tom Glavine might not agree, not after ++ setting a dubious All-Star record when he gave up nine hits in 1 2/3 innings. He became the first NL pitcher to make an All-Star start in consecutive seasons since Robin Roberts (1953-55), but that distinction soon led to destruction for last year's Cy Young Award recipient.
The National League wilted under a shower of base hits, though not all of them were solid. Boston third baseman Wade Boggs began the assault with a ground ball through the middle of the infield, and the AL loaded the bases on a pair of looping singles by Kirby Puckett and Joe Carter.
It would only get worse for Glavine, who was looking down the barrel at major-league home run leader Mark McGwire and 1991 MVP Cal Ripken. McGwire lined a two-run single to center. Ripken followed with a slicing fly ball into the right-field corner for another run, but was thrown out at second by right fielder Tony Gwynn.
"There's not much you can do about it," Glavine said. "They hit a few pitching wedge shots, kind of broken-bat hits that just fell in. Things didn't go well tonight, but when they get seven hits in a row, what are you going to do?"
Kelly had said on Monday that he would not allow any of his pitchers to hit, but he had no choice when Brown went to the plate in the first. Brown, the winningest pitcher in baseball, had yet to take the mound, so he took the at-bat and struck out to end the inning.
Griffey would become more prominent as the game went on. He lined a home run to left off Chicago Cubs pitcher Greg Maddux in the third inning and led off the sixth with a double into the right-field corner off St. Louis Cardinals' Bob Tewksbury.
"This means a lot," Griffey said. "I just wanted to come out and play and do the best job I could. I never thought about being the MVP."
It didn't seem to matter who Kelly sent to the plate. He made wholesale lineup changes in the sixth inning, and the American League squad scored four additional runs to turn it into one of the most lopsided All-Star games in history.
The American League pitching staff took it one inning at a time and took a shutout into the sixth inning. Brown and White Sox starter Jack McDowell were perfect, and Toronto Blue Jays phenom Juan Guzman struck out the first two batters of the third before the National League threatened to make it interesting.
The pitching parade continued with Roger Clemens and then Orioles right-hander Mike Mussina, who pitched impressively in his All-Star debut. Mussina retired the side in order in the fifth before turning the game over to California Angels left-hander Mark Langston.
All three Orioles appeared in the game. Ripken had one hit in three at-bats. Outfielder Brady Anderson entered the game as a middle-inning replacement and went hitless in three at-bats.
The National League finally got on the scoreboard in the bottom of the sixth. Bonds lined a one-out double to right and scored when hometown hero Fred McGriff lined a single to center.
There was no opportunity for any complicated managerial strategy. Kelly had the big lead early enough to make sure he got all of the position players into the game. He used so many players so soon that Cleveland Indians pitcher Charles Nagy had to hit in the eighth. But even that worked out. Nagy singled on the infield off former teammate Doug Jones and Ventura followed with the American League's record-tying 17th hit of the game.
Travis Fryman delivered the record-breaker, an opposite-field single that brought home the AL's 11th run of the game. The previous record had stood since 1954, when the American League had 17 at Cleveland Stadium.