SAN DIEGO, CA - AUGUST 3: Mariano Rivera #42 of the New York Yankees pitches during the ninth inning of a baseball game against the San Diego Padres at Petco Park on August 3, 2013 in San Diego, California. The Yankees won 3-0. (Photo by Denis Poroy/Getty Images)
Rare is the professional athlete who is so good, yet so likeable, that everyone in the game both respects and loves him.
Mariano Rivera is one of those guys.
The Yankees closer and future Hall of Famer will retire after this season. Over his 19-year career he's been as classy as he has been dominant. Rivera's farewell tour made a stop on San Diego, and when he came in to preserve a 3-0 Yankees lead in the 9th inning, nearly all of the 44,184 folks in the stands paid their respects.
Rivera got a near-unanimous standing ovation from the Padres crowd, then did what he does. Mo got three outs on nine pitches for his 35th save of the year, and the 643rd of his career.
Mariano and former Padre Trevor Hoffman are the only members of the 600-save club. Heck, they're the only members of the 500-save club!
Rivera got his moment despite a great outing by Padres starter Tyson Ross, who struck out a career-high nine batters in 6-plus innings. Ross really only made one bad pitch, putting one out over the plate that Curtis Granderson turned in to a 2-run home run in the 7th inning.
New York starter Ivan Nova went 7.0 innings, punching out eight, to get the win.
The Padres can still win the series on Sunday behind their newest starter, former Yankee Ian Kennedy.
Before the game, the Padres signed veteran SS Ronny Cedeno to a minor league contract. Cedeno has played nine years in the Big Leagues. He's in the pipeline just in case All-Star Everth Cabrera is suspended for his alleged involvement with Biogenesis, the Florida-based lab that's been the subject of a MLB investigation in to performance-enhancing drugs.