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Third base has been unkind to the Boston Red Sox in the 2013 World Series.
Two days after Boston reliever Craig Breslow fired a ball to third base that reached the stands and allowed the St. Louis Cardinals the go-ahead run in a series-tying 4-2 win in Game 2, the Red Sox experienced déjà vu in Game 3 in St. Louis Saturday.
The result was a wild 5-4 Cardinals victory and a 2-1 St. Louis lead in the best-of-seven series.
Tied 4-4 in the bottom of the ninth, Boston closer Koji Uehara entered the game with one out and Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina on first. Allen Craig knocked the first pitch into the gap for a double to put the game-winning run at third base. John Jay hit a sharp grounder to Boston second baseman Dustin Pedroia, who made a diving snag and threw home to get a tag on Molina.
Boston catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia immediately fired to third base to throw out the advancing Craig but the ball skipped through third baseman Will Middlebrooks legs, off Craig’s arm and down the left field line. While Boston left fielder Daniel Nava retrieved the errant throw, Craig got up and tripped over the sprawled out Middlebrooks as he went home. Nava’s throw to Saltalamacchia was easily in time for the tag on Craig but home plate umpire Dana DeMuth ruled Craig safe after third base umpire Jim Joyce called obstruction on Middlebrooks, whose legs had popped up on the play.
The Cardinals raced out of the dugout to celebrate with Craig, who re-aggravated his sprained left foot and had to be carried off the field.
“It was a crazy play and I had to do an obstacle course getting home,” Craig told reporters after the game. “I had to try and jump over (Middlebrooks). It happened so fast. I’m not sure if he clipped me.
When did Craig find out he was safe?
“When I saw my entire team running on the field,” Craig said.
It was a tough luck loss for the Red Sox, who scored two runs in the bottom of the eighth to tie the game at 4-4.
“It’s a tough way to have a game end, especially one of this significance,” Boston manager John Farrell said in his postgame press conference. “Will is trying to stop the throw and I’m not sure how you get in the way as he’s lying on the ground and Craig falls over him.
“That’s a tough pill to swallow.”
It was a simple case of bad luck. Wrong place, wrong time.
“The feet didn’t play too much into that because he was still in the area where the base runner needs to go to advance to home plate,” Joyce told reporters in a press conference with the umpires. “The base runner has every right to go unobstructed to home plate, and unfortunately for Middlebrooks he was right there. And there was contact, so he could not advance to home plate naturally.”
Peavy ran into trouble again in the fourth when Molina singled, David Freese drew a walk and John Jay singled to load the bases with no outs. But Pete Kozma looked at strike three and Peavy got Cardinals starter Joe Kelly and Carpenter to pop out to the infield.
Boston scrapped a run in the fifth when Xander Bogaerts led off with a triple and scored on fielder’s choice groundout from Mike Carp. Boston tied the game at 2-2 in the sixth when Shane Victorino walked and eventually scored on Nava’s single.
St. Louis took the lead in the bottom of the seventh, scoring two runs off of Breslow. Carpenter led off with an infield single, Carlos Beltran was hit by a pitch and Junichi Tawaza came in to give Matt Holliday a two-run double to left field.
Boston evened the score in the top of the eighth. Jacoby Ellsbury singled to center, Victorino was hit by a pitch – an MLB postseason record 11th career HBP – and David Ortiz was intentionally walked to load the bases with one out. Cardinals closer Trevor Rosenthal came in and got Nava to ground out to Kolten Wong for a fielder’s choice at second that allowed Ellsbury to score. Bogaerts single to center scored Victorino to tie the game at 4-4.
Boston went 1-2-3 in the top of the ninth as Middlebrooks and pitcher Brandon Workman, in his first professional baseball at-bat, each struckout. Farrell elected not to use Mike Napoli as a pinch hitter for Workman, needing the reliever to pitch in the bottom of the ninth.
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