Allen Craig scored the winning run on an obstruction call in the bottom of the ninth inning as the St. Louis Cardinals grabbed the World Series lead with a 5-4 victory over the Boston Red Sox.
The Cardinals hold a two-games-to-one advantage in the best-of-seven series going into tonight’s Game 4 at Busch Stadium in St. Louis, Missouri.
Craig, pinch-hitting for pitcher Trevor Rosenthal with the score tied at 4-4, doubled to move Yadier Molina to third with one out. Jon Jay hit a ground ball and Red Sox second-baseman Dustin Pedroia threw home to catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia, who tagged out Molina and then threw wide of Boston’s third baseman Will Middlebrooks in an attempt to put out Craig. As Craig then started for home he was tripped by Middlebrooks’s legs and third-base umpire Jim Joyce ruled obstruction, saying he would have scored without the interference.
“When he tried to advance from third base, Middlebrooks’s feet were in the air and he tripped,” Joyce said in a televised interview. “I immediately called obstruction.”
Rosenthal said he couldn’t remember the language in the rule although he agreed there was obstruction to Craig’s movement.
“Baseball is a crazy game,” he said. “Anything can happen.”
Craig returned for the Series from a sprained left foot that had sidelined him since early September. After he slid into home plate on the final play, he limped off the field.
“Crazy play, having to do an obstacle course to go home and sprint as fast as I could was the hardest I’ve run for a couple of months. I had to try to jump over him. I was a little sore when I got up.”
Craig said he believed he was out and didn’t know the Cardinals had won until he looked up and saw his team running at him and Pedroia screaming.
“Unbelievable,” Molina said of the play.
Middlebrooks, who was on his stomach at third base as Craig tried to get by him, said there was no place for him to go as he already was five feet off the baseline.
“There’s nothing I could have done differently,” he said. “You got to go for the ball. You just can’t let it go. It blows your mind to lose a game like that but you literally can’t let it go.”
Matt Holliday and Molina each hit run-scoring singles in the first inning off starter Jake Peavy. Boston’s Mike Carp and Daniel Nava tied the game at 2-2 with hits in the fifth and sixth innings.
Holliday hit a two-run double in the seventh before Nava and Xander Bogaerts tied the game again in the eighth inning.
“This game’s not going to define our team,” Pedroia said.
Rosenthal (1-0) allowed one hit and struck out two in 1 2/3 innings for the win. Brandon Workman (0-1) took the loss, giving up one run on one hit in 1/3 inning.