The 57th all-star game started with Roger Clemens and Dwight Gooden exchanging 95-mph heat and ended with Don Aase throwing two pitches just about that hard.
In between, there were screwballs from Teddy Higuera and Fernando Valenzuela, a split-finger fastball from Mike Scott, a 55-mph knuckleball from Charlie Hough -- and 19 strikeouts.
Pitching and pitchers dominated this all-star game, and in the end the American League and its pitching was a little better, leaving the Astrodome tonight with a 3-2 victory before 45,774.
Each team had five hits, but two of the American League's were big ones as its second basemen connected for home runs -- Lou Whitaker for a two-run shot off Gooden in the second inning and Frank White for a bases-empty shot off Scott in the seventh.
The result was rare. Not only did the American League win for just the third time in 24 years, but it won in a National League stadium for the first time since 1962.
"I know we were serious about the game," American League Manager Dick Howser said. "You could tell by the feeling on our bench."
Boston's Clemens, who was named the game's most valuable player, opened with three perfect innings and was followed by Milwaukee's Higuera, who allowed two base runners.
"Clemens is going to be one of the greats of the game," said Darryl Strawberry of the New York Mets.
The game ended in style, too, with the National League having the tying run at third and the winning run at first with one out. That's when Howser waved in Aase, the Baltimore Orioles' relief ace.
He threw Chris Brown two pitches, and Brown hit the second for a game-ending double play.
"My No. 1 thrill, more even than my first game back from elbow surgery ," Aase said. "It will be something special to remember, no matter what happens."
Before it needed him, the American League had taken the Clemens-Higuera one-hitter into the eighth inning, which is when Hough and his knuckleball got the team into trouble.
The most impressive of the five NL pitchers was Valenzuela, who tied a 52-year-old all-star game record with five straight strikeouts in the fourth and fifth innings.
At the beginning, Clemens needed just 25 pitches to finish his three-inning turn. He threw 21 of them for strikes, two of them for strikeouts.
He was so in command of his blazing fastball that National League hitters got only three balls out of the infield, all lazy fly balls to the outfield.
"I felt sluggish all day yesterday," he said. "Today, coming out to the Dome got all the adrenalin flowing. The best part was when I walked in the dugout and I saw all those great players in there with me. I thought we had made a major trade."
Gooden was much shakier in his three innings, allowing three hits and balking. With two outs in the second, New York's Dave Winfield hit an outside fastball into the right field corner for a double.
Gooden then got in front of Whitaker, 0-2, but tried an offspeed pitch that Whitaker hit over the right field wall for a 2-0 American League lead.
"My last few games I've just been making a couple minor mistakes mechanically," Gooden said. "Tonight, I felt great mechanically. One pitch cost me two runs, and that's been my problem."
Whitaker said, "It was a curve that didn't break, and I just managed to get it out. Dwight Gooden is one of the few pitchers in this game you can truly call great, and it is a thrill and an honor for me to hit a home run against him.
"I have plenty of family and friends here and that will give them something to talk about for a while."
Valenzuela was the second National League pitcher, and he was even sharper than Clemens had been, striking out the first five hitters he faced -- Don Mattingly, Cal Ripken, Jesse Barfield, Whitaker and Higuera.
Those five consecutive strikeouts tied the all-star game record established July 10, 1934, by Carl Hubbell, who struck out Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Jimmie Foxx, Al Simmons and Joe Cronin.
Valenzuela's streak was broken to end the fifth when Kirby Puckett grounded out to shortstop, but in three innings, he allowed only one base runner -- Wade Boggs on a one-out single in the sixth.
For the American League, Higuera followed Clemens and retired the first four hitters he faced to extend the perfect-game streak to 13 batters. It was broken up with one out in the fifth when Strawberry lined a single to right field.
Higuera followed with a walk to Mike Schmidt, but got Dale Murphy on a flyout to center and New York's Hubie Brooks on a groundout to second. He then retired the side in order in the sixth to continue the shutout.
Houston's Scott took over for Valenzuela in the seventh and started impressively, striking out Ripken and Barfield on vicious split-finger fastballs.
It appeared he also would get White, but as the crowd got to its feet, White turned on a 0-2 pitch and hit it over the wall in left-center for a 3-0 lead.
"That's why baseball is so great, because you never know who's going to stand out," White said. "You come in thinking you know who's going to stand out, but you never do. He threw a fastball in over the plate, just missed with it, I think."
The National League finally scored against Hough in the eighth when Brown got a leadoff double and advanced to second and third, thanks to Hough's knuckleball.
He went to second when a swinging third strike by Brooks got away from Boston catcher Rich Gedman, and scored on Gedman's passed ball.
Brooks went to first on the missed third strike and second on a balk by Hough. Hough got Tim Raines for his third strikeout, but Steve Sax's single to center scored Brooks to make it 3-2.
"That was embarrassing," Gedman said. "It's just a matter of getting used to a knuckleball, which I'm not."
At that point, Howser went for Dave Righetti. NL Manager Whitey Herzog sent up pinch hitter Glenn Davis, and before he could swing, Sax had stolen second to put the tying run in scoring position.
Righetti bailed the American League out of the inning by getting Davis on a broken-bat pop to third to end the eighth, and Aase got the AL out of trouble in the ninth.