Cardinals take Game 3 on interference call

ST. LOUIS – Allen Craig slid home, and sure looked as though he was out. It didn’t matter, though, due to one of the wildest World Series endings imaginable.

An obstruction call on third baseman Will Middlebrooks let Craig score with two outs in the bottom of the ninth inning, finishing off a madcap play that sent the St. Louis Cardinals to a 5-4 win over the Boston Red Sox on Saturday for a 2-1 Series lead.

“I’m in shock right now,” said St. Louis’ Yadier Molina.

When it was over, the Cardinals poured out of the dugout to congratulate Craig. The Red Sox rushed to the plate, as well, to argue with the umpires. The fans at Busch Stadium seemed too startled to cheer.

“Tough way to have a game end, particularly of this significance,” said Boston manager John Farrell.

Game 4 is today.

Molina singled with one out in the ninth off losing pitcher Brandon Workman. Craig, who returned for the Series from a sprained left foot that had sidelined him since early September, batted as a pinch hitter 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. Second baseman Dustin Pedroia made a sensational diving stab and threw home to catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia, who tagged out the sliding Molina.

Saltalamacchia threw wide of third, however, 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, but the players left nothing to chance.

“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 to get up.

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

Left fielder Daniel Nava retrieved the ball and made a strong throw home and Saltalamacchia tagged Craig, 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.”

The Red Sox scored twice in the eighth to made the score 4-4 – St. Anthony High School graduate Shane Victorino scored the second run of the rally after being hit by a pitch for the seventh time this postseason and 11th time in his postseason career, both extending his own records.

Cardinals rookie Kolten Wong of the Big Island made his Series debut – he entered the game to play second base in the top of the eighth, then singled and stole second base in the bottom of the inning.