The St. Louis Cardinals have the upper hand in the World Series after a crazy ending to Game 3 at Busch Stadium.
Will Middlebrooks was called for obstructing Allen Craig’s path to home plate, and the Cardinals were awarded the winning run with two outs in the bottom of the ninth inning in a 5-4 victory over the Boston Red Sox on Saturday night.
Yadier Molina singled off Brandon Workman (0-1), and Craig, in a pinch-hit role, doubled to the left field corner against Koji Uehara.
Jon Jay then hit a sharp grounder to second baseman Dustin Pedroia, who threw home to get Molina. After catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia threw low to third to try to get Craig, the ball caromed off Middlebrooks’ glove and Craig’s arm and bounced away.
As Craig — running on a sprained left foot — got up to run home, Middlebrooks, lying on his stomach, raised his legs and Craig tripped over them. Saltalamacchia applied the tag at home on Craig after the throw from left fielder Daniel Nava, who was backing up the play, but third base umpire Jim Joyce ruled Middlebrooks impeded Craig’s progress.
Home plate umpire Dana DeMuth pointed at third to confirm the obstruction call had already been made. It was the first walk-off win via an obstruction call in World Series history.
The Red Sox trailed, 4-2, with just six outs left. But Jacoby Ellsbury jump-started an eighth-inning rally with a leadoff single against righty Carlos Martinez. Shane Victorino was plunked on a curveball, marking the seventh time he’s been hit by a pitch in this postseason.
After Pedroia worked the count to 3-2, Farrell put the runners in motion. That wound up being big, as Pedroia hit a grounder to short and the runners moved to second and third with one out.
The dangerous David Ortiz was walked intentionally to load the bases and on came Rosenthal. Nava hit a grounder to second, and Carpenter could only get the force at second, as a run scored to make it a 4-3 game.
Up stepped 21-year-old Xander Bogaerts, and he was again unfazed with the game on the line, hitting a tapper that took a big bounce behind the second-base bag and off the glove of shortstopPete Kozma for an infield single that tied the game.
The Cards had snapped a tie in the bottom of the seventh against Boston’s setup tandem of Craig Breslow and Junichi Tazawa. Breslow, who also struggled in Game 2, started the frame by giving up an infield hit, a roller to short by Carpenter. Breslow then hit Carlos Beltran.
On came Tazawa in a tough situation, and Matt Holliday belted his third pitch down the line in left for a two-run double that gave the Cardinals a 4-2 lead.
Game 3 was a tense contest that had turned into a battle of the bullpens by the sixth inning.
Down, 2-1, with four innings left, the Sox rallied in the top of the sixth. Nava ripped one into left for a game-tying RBI single. It was a strong way for Nava, who didn’t start the first two games, to mark his return to the mix.
After starter Jake Peavy (four innings, six hits, two earned runs) exited for a pinch-hitter, Felix Doubront did a nice job keeping Boston in the game with two shutout innings.
It gave the Cardinals a 2-1 lead in the best-of-seven series with Game 4 scheduled for Sunday night.