NEW YORK (Reuters) - After years of ceding World Series home-field advantage to the American League, the National League fired a warning shot to AL clubs by winning the opening weekend of interleague play.
The National League prevailed by a narrow 22-20 in the just-completed 14 match-ups last weekend, but the results marked a reversal of recent form between the two leagues.
Since 2004, the American has dominated interleague play and won the All-Star Game, which has given its winner home-field advantage in the World Series.
The American League has won the interleague contests against National League teams by an average of 28 games over the last six years and won four of the last six Fall Classics.
However, NL contenders may feel the tide turning in terms of the relative strength of the leagues.
The New York Mets led the way by beating their cross-town rivals and World Series champion New York Yankees two out of three games at Citi Field with ace Johan Santana outdueling his Yankee counterpart CC Sabathia in Sunday's rubber game.
Felipe Lopez's walk-off single in the 10th inning gave the St Louis Cardinals a home-series win over perennial AL West power the Los Angeles Angels, and the hot Los Angeles Dodgers took two of three from the Detroit Tigers.
But American League fans could take heart from a pair of key showdowns that came out in their favor.
The visiting Boston Red Sox won the decider in their three-game set against National League champion Philadelphia Phillies when 43-year-old knuckleballer Tim Wakefield outpitched former Cy Young winner Roy Halladay.
The only sweep was posted by the Oakland A's against their Bay Area rivals from San Francisco, when their young pitchers held the Giants' puny attack to one run in three games.
(Writing by Larry Fine, Editing by Alison Wildey)