AL bullpen dominates but Kershaw revels in 'really fun' maiden All-Star Game start

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Despite the American League's (AL) 3-2 win in the MLB All-Star Game on Tuesday, Clayton Kershaw relished pitching the opening inning, conceding it "meant a lot" to him.

After nine All-Star selections and six appearances, the three-time National League (NL) Cy Young Award winner visibly savoured the moment as he approached the mound.

After the Los Angeles Dodgers won the World Series in 2020, Kershaw had effectively achieved everything he could as a pitcher in baseball today, but had never started in an All-Star Game.

Achieving it in front of his home fans at Dodger Stadium on Tuesday, the usually measured 34-year-old could not hide his excitement.

"It was actually a lot of fun today to be out there, and the crowd was awesome," Kershaw said after his opening inning. "I can’t say enough good things about Dodger fans, people in LA in general, just how much these last few days, how much they wanted me to do this. It meant a lot to me.

"I tried to take a minute at the beginning to take it all in and look around, which I usually never do. Being here at Dodger Stadium, a place where I’ve been now for 15 years, and to get to do something like this with the best in the world, is really fun.

"And it was also really personal for me and my family, everybody. I’m excited it’s over."

Leading off for the AL, Shohei Ohtani was able to claim a single off Kershaw's first pitch, but the Dodgers' starter caught him trying to steal second, before striking out Aaron Judge.

Paul Goldschmidt gave the NL a 2-0 lead in the opening frame before Mookie Betts drove Ronald Acuna Jr. in, crushing a solo home run up the middle off Shane McClanahan.

The AL team were able to claim the lead with a three-run fourth via Giancarlo Stanton's two-run shot, before Byron Buxton followed up with a solo homer of his own.

Coming in to pinch hit in what could be his final at-bat in an All-Star game, Albert Pujols sent a ball deep into left-field off Paul Blackburn in the bottom of the fourth, but Andrew Benintendi eventually made the catch with the crowd at Dodgers Stadium seemingly willing his hit over the wall.

The AL bullpen started to take over proceedings after Alek Manoah came onto the mound, keeping the NL without a hit between the second and fifth innings.

Emmanuel Clase spectacularly closed for the AL's ninth consecutive win in what was a dominant pitching display.

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