It was a special moment for both Votto and Phillips, who earned the starts based on fan balloting leading up to the game, while Reds closer Aroldis Chapman made it via the player ballot. The National League lost, 3-0, to the American League.
Votto went 0-for-2 at the plate with a strikeout before he was replaced by D-backs first baseman Paul Goldschmidt in the fifth inning, while Phillips led off and went 0-for-2. He also made an outstanding barehanded play to turn two to end the fifth, and was replaced in the sixth by Cardinals second baseman Matt Carpenter.
"For me and Votto to be starting, we just want to thank the fans," Phillips said. "If it wasn't for the fans we'd be playing in empty seats and I wouldn't have started. So I just play for the fans, my family and to entertain people."
Votto, an All-Star for the fourth straight year, said it was an honor to make his second straight start for the NL at first base. He also said he enjoyed playing at Citi Field, which featured 45,186 fans to mark the largest crowd in the stadium's history.
"I love this ballpark," Votto said. "It's one of my favorites in the game. It's a great park to play in and the fans are terrific. I love seeing the planes take off and land overhead. It just has a real charm to it."
Votto struck out looking against Tigers right-hander Max Scherzer in his first at-bat and grounded out to second base in his second at-bat against Mariners right-hander Felix Hernandez.
But it doesn't take away from his impressive season, as he's hitting .318 while leading the NL with a .434 on-base percentage. He also has 15 homers and 42 RBIs in 95 games after having two arthroscopic knee surgeries last year after tearing meniscus cartilage in his left knee on June 30, 2012.
"It's very meaningful for me," Votto said. "Whether you're picked by the fans or your peers, it's people acknowledging how well you played and all the work you put into the game on a daily basis. Last year, I had multiple knee surgeries, so to be able to come back and start the All-Star Game, I'm very proud of that."
Phillips, meanwhile, led off the first inning for the NL with a flyout to left field. He then grounded out to third in his second at-bat against Hernandez. But he showed off why he's won three Gold Glove Awards in the fifth, as he made a barehanded catch at second base to turn an inning-ending double play on a sharp grounder to shortstop from Mike Trout with runners at first and second.
Chapman hurled a scoreless seventh inning, as he walked leadoff man Nelson Cruz, then got Edwin Encarnacion to hit into a double play and Adam Jones to strike out.
It was also special for the Cuban-born left-hander, as his parents were in attendance to watch him play in his second Midsummer Classic.
"They got here in January," Chapman said through translator Tomas Vera. "They spent Spring Training there with me. We didn't want to say anything to anybody."