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Obstruction call gives Cardinals 5-4 win in Game 3

10/27/2013

ST. LOUIS (AP) — The

Cardinals rushed to the plate to congratulate Allen Craig. The Red Sox

stormed home to argue with the umpires.

The fans, well, they seemed too startled to know what to do. Who'd ever seen an obstruction call to end a World Series game?

No one.

In

perhaps the wildest finish imaginable, the rare ruling against third

baseman Will Middlebrooks allowed Craig to score with two outs in the

bottom of the ninth inning and lifted St. Louis over Boston 5-4 Saturday

night for a 2-1 edge.

A walk-off win? More like a trip-off.

"I'm in shock right now," St. Louis catcher Yadier Molina said.

So was most everyone at Busch Stadium after the mad-cap play.

"Tough way to have a game end, particularly of this significance," Red Sox manager John Farrell said.

After

an umpire's call was the crux of Game 1 and a poor Boston throw to

third base decided Game 2, the key play on this night combined both

elements.

Molina singled with one out in the ninth off losing

pitcher Brandon Workman. Craig, just back from a sprained foot,

pinch-hit and lined Koji Uehara's first pitch into left field for a

double that put runners on second and third.

With the infield in,

Jon Jay hit a grounder to diving second baseman Dustin Pedroia. He made a

sensational stab and threw home to catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia, who

tagged out the sliding Molina.

But then Saltalamacchia threw wide

of third trying to get Craig. The ball glanced off Middlebrooks' glove

and Craig's body, caroming into foul territory down the line.

After

the ball got by, Middlebrooks, lying on his stomach, raised both legs

and tripped Craig, slowing him down as he tried to take off for home.

"I just know I have to dive for that ball. I'm on the ground. There's nowhere for me to go," Middlebrooks said.

Third base umpire Jim Joyce immediately signaled obstruction.

"With

the defensive player on the ground, without intent or intent, it's

still obstruction," Joyce said. "You'd probably have to ask Middlebrooks

that one, if he could have done anything. But that's not in our

determination."

Craig kept scrambling.

"He was in my way. I couldn't tell you if he tried to trip me or not. I was just trying to get over him," he said.

Left

fielder Daniel Nava retrieved the ball and made a strong throw home,

where Saltalamacchia tagged a sliding Craig in time. But plate umpire

Dana DeMuth signaled safe and then pointed to third, making clear the

obstruction had been called.

"I was excited at first because we nailed the guy at home. I wasn't sure why he was called safe," Middlebrooks said.

"We're

all running to home to see why he was called safe. We didn't think

there was any obstruction there, obviously. As I'm getting up, he trips

over me. I don't know what else to say."

Said Cardinals slugger Matt Holliday: "You hate for it to end on a somewhat controversial play."

"You would like for it to end a little cleaner, but that's part of it," he said.

Joyce and crew chief John Hirschbeck said they'd never seen a similar game-ending play.

A

neat coincidence, though: In 2004, umpire Paul Emmel called obstruction

on Seattle shortstop Jose Lopez, ruling he blocked Carl Crawford's

sightline and giving Tampa Bay the game-ending run. Emmel was the first

base umpire on this night, too.

The umpires all agreed Joyce got

it right. Until now, he was best known for making an admittedly wrong

call in 2010 that denied Detroit's Armando Galarraga a perfect game.

Game 4 is Sunday night, with Clay Buchholz starting for Boston against Lance Lynn.

To

some Cardinals fans, the call meant long overdue payback. They're still

smarting from Don Denkinger's missed call that helped cost them the

1985 World Series.

To some Red Sox fans, the tangle might've brought back painful memories from the 1975 World Series.

In Game 3, Cincinnati's Ed Armbrister wasn't called for interference by

plate umpire Larry Barnett when he blocked Boston catcher Carlton Fisk

on a 10th-inning bunt. Fisk made a wild throw, setting up Joe Morgan's

winning single.

Craig returned for this Series

from a sprained left foot that had sidelined him since early September.

After an awkward slide on the final play, he hobbled off the field in

apparent discomfort.

The Red Sox scored twice in the eighth to tie

it 4-all. Jacoby Ellsbury led off with a single and Shane Victorino was

hit by a pitch for the sixth time this postseason. Both runners moved

up on Pedroia's groundout, and David Ortiz was intentionally walked.

Cardinals

manager Mike Matheny went to hard-throwing closer Trevor Rosenthal with

the bases loaded, hoping for a five-out save from a rookie who has

looked almost untouchable this October. But the Red Sox pushed two runs

across.

Nava drove in one with a short-hop grounder that was

smothered by second baseman Kolten Wong, who had just entered on defense

in a double-switch.

Wong went to second for the forceout, but

Nava beat the relay and Ellsbury scored to make it 4-3. Xander Bogaerts

tied it when he chopped a single up the middle.

Workman jammed

Holliday and retired the slugger on a routine fly with two on to end the

bottom of the eighth. That sent the game to the ninth tied at 4.

Rosenthal wound up with the win.

Holliday's two-run double put the Cardinals on top 4-2 in the seventh.

It

was a tough inning for Red Sox reliever Craig Breslow. Matt Carpenter

reached safely when he checked his swing on an infield single to

shortstop. Carlos Beltran was grazed on the elbow pad by a pitch —

making no effort to get out of the way.

Beltran, in fact, almost appeared to stick his elbow out just a tiny bit to make sure the ball made contact.

Junichi

Tazawa came on and Holliday pulled a grounder past Middlebrooks at

third. The ball kicked into the left-field corner and Holliday went all

the way to third on the throw to the plate.

Tazawa then got a couple of strikeouts and prevented further damage.

It

was Middlebrooks' first inning in the field. He entered as a

pinch-hitter in the top of the seventh and took over at third base in

the bottom half.

That shifted Bogaerts to shortstop — and neither one was able to make the difficult defensive play Boston needed in that inning.

Cardinals

starter Joe Kelly, one of the few major league pitchers to wear glasses

on the mound, set down his first nine batters. The Red Sox seemed to

see him better the next time around in coming back from a 2-0 deficit.

Bogaerts

opened the fifth with a triple that banged-up right fielder Beltran

couldn't quite reach. The rookie later scored on a grounder by

pinch-hitter Mike Carp.

Slumping Shane Victorino drew a leadoff

walk from Kelly in the sixth and wound up scoring the tying run. Ortiz

grounded a single off lefty reliever Randy Choate, and Nava greeted Seth

Maness with an RBI single that made it 2-all.

Their fielding woes

from Game 1 far behind them, the slick-fielding Cardinals made several

sharp plays. Kelly barehanded a one-hopper, Carpenter threw out a runner

from his knees up the middle and third baseman David Freese backhanded a

line drive.

St. Louis quickly broke ahead, scoring in the first

inning for the first time this October on RBI singles by Holliday and

Molina. After the Cardinals got three hits in a span of four pitches,

Red Sox reliever Felix Doubront began heating up in a hurry before Jake

Peavy settled down.

NOTES: With no DH, Red Sox slugger Mike Napoli

was on the bench. Workman batted in the ninth and struck out; Farrell

said he needed another inning from the reliever. ... Cardinals Hall of

Famers Bob Gibson, Lou Brock, Ozzie Smith and Red Schoendienst took part

in the first-ball festivities, with fan favorite Willie McGee tossing

the pitch. ... At 21, Bogaerts became the third-youngest player to hit a

triple in a World Series. Ty Cobb and Mickey Mantle did it at 20. ... Molina has a six-game hitting streak in World Series

play. ... The family of late umpire Wally Bell was in the stands. Bell

died at 48 this month, and the six-man crew is wearing patches to honor

him. Bell's first plate job in the World Series was at this ballpark in 2006.