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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Homers Propel NL Stars Past AL, 3-2

ARLINGTON, Texas -- There was an Elvislike aura surrounding Hideo Nomo's entrance into the 66th Major League Baseball All-Star Game, but the Los Angeles Dodger rookie and media darling had to share the spotlight with some obscure guy from an expansion team.


Florida Marlin outfielder Jeff Conine, who was picked for the 1994 All-Star team but didn't play in the game, drove a Steve Ontiveros pitch into the left-field bleachers for a bases-empty home run in the top of the eighth inning to lift the National League to a 3-2 victory over the American League before 50,920 in The Ballpark at Arlington on Tuesday night.


Conine's home run, which snapped a 2-2 tie on a sweltering, 36-degree-Celsius evening, capped a National League comeback that was achieved with only three hits -- all home runs that were hit from the sixth inning on.


Houston Astro second baseman Craig Biggio homered off the Cleveland Indians' Dennis Martinez in the sixth inning and Dodger catcher Mike Piazza homered off the Texas Rangers' Kenny Rogers in the seventh.


Nomo started and threw two scoreless and impressive innings, but it was Conine, in his fifth major-league season, who needed just one swing of the bat to walk away with the game's most-valuable-player trophy, which will easily displace the ball he hit for his first major-league home run as the centerpiece of his mantel.


Hitting the game-winning home run and winning the MVP trophy "made up for last year," Conine said. "If I don't play for another five years, that would be fine with me."


San Francisco Giant third baseman Matt Williams didn't play in the All-Star Game because of a foot injury, but he still helped Conine prepare for his at-bat against Ontiveros, the Oakland A's righthander.


"Matt faced him a lot in spring training and said he threw mostly sliders and curves," Conine said.


"I looked at one slider and he threw another one out over the plate, and I knew it was gone the minute I hit it.


"You grow up playing sandlot baseball in your back yard, Little League, and you always put yourself in a big-game situation, in the postseason or All-Star Game, and winning it with a homer," said Conine.


Conine's drive went an estimated 410 feet and was the 16th pinch-hit homer in All-Star Game history. Conine also became the 10th player to homer in his first All-Star at-bat. The last was the Kansas City Royals' Bo Jackson, who homered to lead off the 1989 All-Star Game in Anaheim Stadium.


"He doesn't say a lot and he didn't bitch about not playing last year, but you could see it in his eyes that he wanted to play this year," San Diego Padre Tony Gwynn said of Conine.


Conine's father, Jerry, was in attendance. "He probably knocked down about six guys around him when I hit the homer," Conine said.


For most of the evening, it was the pitchers who were knocking down batters, as the highly anticipated pitching matchup between Nomo and Seattle Mariner left-hander Randy Johnson lived up to its billing.


Nomo, who received a fax from the Japanese Prime Minister wishing him luck before the game, was engulfed by a wave of about 60 TV cameras and still photographers as he entered the National League dugout. All that was missing was a public-address announcement: "Nomo has entered the building."


But the right-hander seemed oblivious to the attention, as he pitched to the minimum six batters in his two innings, striking out three and allowing only a single to Cleveland's Carlos Baerga, who was thrown out by Piazza trying to steal second.


Johnson, the 6-foot-10 Seattle Mariner ace, was up to the task, also pitching to the minimum six batters and striking out three. He walked the Philadelphia Phillies' Lenny Dykstra to lead off the game, but Texas' catcher Ivan Rodriguez threw Dykstra out trying to steal second.


Johnson was followed by Kansas City's Kevin Appier and Martinez, who combined to no-hit the National League over the first 5 2/3 innings, the longest a team has gone in the All-Star Game without a hit.


But just as the press-box announcer was notifying the media of that record, Biggio launched a homer into the left-field bleachers to make it 2-1.


Frank Thomas had given the American League a 2-0 lead in the fourth inning when he became the first Chicago White Sox player in team history to hit an all-star home run, sending a John Smiley pitch into the second deck in left field-an estimated 418 feet away.


The two-run blast was the ultimate hit-and-run play. Thomas, who won Monday's home-run derby, left the park moments after the homer to catch a flight to Chicago, where the White Sox are scheduled to play the Milwaukee Brewers Wednesday night.


Piazza, who failed to hit a home run in 20 swings during the 1993 and '94 home-run derbies, tied the game in the seventh with his home run to right-center field, and Chicago Cub left-hander Randy Myers pitched a scoreless ninth to save the victory for Philadelphia reliever Heathcliff Slocumb.


"We were taken aback by the Texas heat, so we conserved our energy," Conine said. "Three swings. That's all we needed."