ST. LOUIS -- The Red Sox lost a tense and pivotal Game 3 of the World Series Saturday night in bizarre fashion, with the Cardinals' Allen Craig scoring the winning run after third baseman Will Middlebrooks was called for obstruction after an errant throw.
The call gave the Cardinals a 5-4 win and a 2-1 lead in the series.
Umpire Jim Joyce awarded Craig home plate after the runner tripped over Middlebrooks's legs while left fielder Daniel Nava was retrieving catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia's errant throw.
With one out, runners on second and third, and the Red Sox infield pulled in, Jon Jay hit a hard ground ball to second baseman Dustin Pedroia. Pedroia threw home to get Matt Adams. With Craig heading for third, Saltalamacchia made an ill-fated throw that eluded Middlebrooks and skittered down the left field line.
Joyce, the third base umpire, quickly made the call on Middlebrooks. Nava still threw to the plate and it appeared Craig, who was limping, would have been out.
"Tough way to have a game end, particularly of this significance, when Will is trying to dive inside to stop the throw,'' said Red Sox manager John Farrell. "I don't know how he gets out of the way when he's lying on the ground. And when Craig trips over him, I guess by the letter of the rule you could say it's obstruction. Like I said, that's a tough pill to swallow."
It is the second straight game that an errant throw to third base has contributed to a Red Sox loss. Craig Breslow's wild throw in Game 2 allowed the Cardinals to score the go-ahead run in a 4-2 win.
Shortly after the game, umpires Joyce, Dana DeMuth, crew chief John Hirschbeck, and MLB executive vice president of baseball operations Joe Torre took to the podium to explain what happened and why the call was made to reporters.
"The baserunner has every right to go unobstructed toward home plate,'' said Joyce. "Unfortunately for Middlebrooks, he was right there, and there was contact. [Craig] could not advance to home plate naturally."
Rule 7.06 states, "obstruction is the act of a fielder who, while not in possession of the ball and not in the act of fielding the ball, impedes the progress of any runner."
"Intentional or not intentional, he just has to clear the path,'' said Torre. "It's unfair because he's laying on the ground, but that's the way the rule is."
The umpires were asked if there was anything Middlebrooks could do to avoid the call being made.
"Just to get out of the way quickly and not obstruct the runner,'' said Joyce. "It's really as simple as that."
Added crew chief John Hirschbeck: "You'll probably have to ask Middlebrooks that."
The agonizing ending came after the Red Sox had rallied to tie the game in their half of the eighth against the back of the Cardinals' bullpen. It was the second time in the game they came back from a two-run deficit.
With hard-throwing Carlos Martinez in to begin the inning, Jacoby Ellsbury led off with a single. Martinez hit Shane Victorino with a pitch, and after Dustin Pedroia moved up the runners with a broken-bat groundout to short, Martinez intentionally walked David Ortiz.
Mike Matheny then made a double switch, bringing in closer Trevor Rosenthal to pitch, with Kolten Wong taking over at second and Matt Carpenter moving to third.
Rosenthal's first batter was Daniel Nava, who hit a hard grounder to Wong. Wong smothered the shot and threw to Pete Kozma at second for a force, but Nava beat the throw as Ellsbury scored the third Red Sox run.
That brought up rookie Xander Bogaerts. The Red Sox still had Mike Napoli available to pinch hit, but because the Red Sox were out of middle infielders, Farrell had no choice but to let Bogaerts hit. The kid delivered with a chopped single up the middle that deflected off shortstop Pete Kozma's glove, scoring Victorino with the tying run.
Jarrod Saltalamacchia grounded to second to end the inning.
End of the seventh, Cardinals 4, Red Sox 2: The Red Sox' infield defense, so dependable all season, falters in the seventh as the Cardinals retake the lead. lf
Craig Breslow took the mound to replace Doubront, while the machinations of the top half of the inning resulted in Xander Bogaerts moving to short and Will Middlebrooks coming in at third.
The defensive changes quickly became ripe for second guessing when Matt Carpenter reached on a slow roller to Bogaerts. His throw was late and couldn't be scooped by David Ortiz at first base, Breslow then nicked Carlos Beltran with a pitch, bringing up the dangerous Matt Holliday.
Holliday, facing new pitcher Junichi Tazawa, hit a rocket toward third base that Middlebrooks couldn't smother. The ball made it all the way to the corner, with Holliday ending up on third while Carpenter and Beltran scored.
Tazawa did leave Holliday stranded at third, striking out Matt Adams and Yadier Molina. David Freese worked a walk, but Jon Jay flew to center to end the threat.
Kevin Siegrist needs just eight pitches to get through three Red Sox hitters in the top half of the inning -- including two pinch hitters, which set the defensive changes in motion.
After striking out Jarrod Saltalamacchia to lead off the inning, Siegrist retires pinch-hitter Will Middlebrooks on one pitch, a fly ball to center. Middlebrooks hit for Stephen Drew, meaning Xander Bogaerts is moving over to shortstop.
Farrell then sent Jonny Gomes up to hit for pitcher Felix Doubront. Gomes flew to Jay. Doubront gave the Red Sox two crucial innings, allowing a hit and a walk.
End of the sixth, Red Sox 2, Cardinals 2: Doubront retires Jon Jay, Pete Kozma, and pinch-hitter Shane Robinson in order to hold down the fort after the Red Sox rallied to tie the score in their half.
Daniel Nava has had a hard time getting into the Red Sox lineup this October with John Farrell's faith in Jonny Gomes.
Maybe now it will be tough to get Nava out of the lineup.
Nava, who hit .336 in the second half of the season, lined a one-out RBI single to left field off reliever Seth Maness to tie the score at 2.
Nava's hit scored Shane Victorino, who led off with a walk against Joe Kelly. Dustin Pedroia lined to short for the first out, but with lefthanded-hitting David Ortiz coming to the plate, the Cardinals turned to lefty specialist Randy Choate. Ortiz greeted him with a hard single to right, moving Victorino to third.
Nava followed with his RBI single off the new reliever Maness, but Xander Bogaerts ended the inning by grounding into a double play.
The final line on Kelly: 5.1 innings, 2 hits, 2 runs, 3 walks, 6 strikeouts.
End of the fifth, Cardinals 2, Red Sox 1: Felix Doubront comes on and navigates out of some minor trouble, getting David Freese to fly routinely to left field with two on for the inning's third out.
Doubront retired the first two batters he faced, Carlos Beltran and Matt Holliday. But Matt Adams double to right field, and rather than deal with Yadier Molina, he was intentionally walked to deal with Freese.
Jake Peavy's night was done after four innings, having been lifted for a pinch hitter who ended up driving in the Red Sox' first run.
Xander Bogaerts led off with a triple to right field that Carlos Beltran misplayed, allowing the ball to reach the wall. Jarrod Saltalamacchia followed with a walk on a 3-2 pitch, but Stephen Drew struck out for the first out.
That brought up the No. 9 spot in the order, and rather than letting Peavy hit in a crucial spot, John Farrell turned to Mike Carp.
On a 3-1 fastball, Carp chopped a grounder up the middle that Carpenter fielded at second. Saltalamacchia made a heady play, stopping in the basepath to prevent Carpenter from tagging him. Instead, he had to flip it to shortstop Pete Kozma for the force, giving Carp enough time to leg out the fielder's choice as Bogaerts scored. Kelly ended any further threat by striking out Jacoby Ellsbury.
The final line on Peavy: 4 innings, 6 hits, 2 runs (both earned), a walk and four strikeouts. He threw 64 pitches.
End of the fourth, Cardinals 2, Red Sox 0: That's what you call an escape, Jake Peavy.
The Cardinals load the bases with no one out on a Molina single, a Freese walk, and a single. Initially, Molina looked like he was going to chug home with the third run, and center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury appeared to be conceding it, but the Cardinals catcher suddenly put on the brakes and returned to third.
He'd be stranded there as Pete Kozma struck out on Peavy's best pitch of the night, an 83 mph changeup on the outside corner. Pitcher Joe Kelly popped to Dustin Pedroia for the second out, bringing up Matt Carpenter, who was 7 for 9 with the bases loaded this season.
Make it 0 for 1 in this game. Carpenter hit a high popup in the middle of the infield that Pedroia tracked into his glove for the third out.
In the top half, the Red Sox had their first hit and their first scoring threat. But their still searching for that first run off Joe Kelly, who escapes a two-on, two-out jam by striking out Daniel Nava on a 3-2 changeup.
Ellsbury led off the inning with the first hit, a grounder that deflected off second baseman Matt Carpenter's glove. Shane Victorino popped to first, and Dustin Pedroia flew deep to Jon Jay in center. Kelly didn't mess around with David Ortiz, walking him on four straight fastballs.
But Nava couldn't capitalize during his seven-pitch at-bat. He swung and missed on an 88 mph pitch to end the inning. Kelly pumped his first and let out a scream in celebration.
End of the third, Cardinals 2, Red Sox 0: There's a break for the Red Sox: an error turns into an out.
With one out, Jacoby Ellsbury can't catch a shallow fly ball by Matt Holliday, but the Red Sox catch him making too far a turn around first, and an alert Dustin Pedroia throws behind him to David Ortiz, who tags him out before he can scramble to the base.
Peavy takes advantage of the break by wrapping up the inning with a strikeout of Matt Adams.
Meanwhile, it was nine up, nine down for the Red Sox against Kelly, who's needed just 34 pitches to get through the first three innings. He struck out Jarrod Saltalamacchia and Stephen Drew (who may never get another hit again). It took the pitcher, Jake Peavy, to make contact -- he grounded to second.
End of the second, Cardinals 2, Red Sox 0: There's no drama for Peavy in the second inning. He retires the 8-9-1 hitters in the Cardinals' order on 11 pitches. He's one person who's happy there's no designated hitter in the NL ballpark.
Kelly sailed through the top of the second without allowing a hit -- thanks in part to his defense.
David Ortiz led off the inning by grounding to Matt Adams at first base.
Daniel Nava, getting his first start of the series, looked like he might have the Red Sox' first hit of the game with a sharp grounder up the middle. But second baseman Matt Carpenter dove to his right, snared the ball, and popped up to throw up Nava by a step.
Xander Bogaerts ended the half inning by grounding to shortstop, the fifth grounder induced by Kelly.
End of the first, Cardinals 2, Red Sox 0: You want small consolations? Here's one: It could have been worse. Much worse.
The Cardinals jump to the lead in Game 3 with RBI singles from Matt Holliday and Yadier Molina. But given that Jake Peavy struggled with his velocity and command in allowing four hits to the first five batters, the Red Sox have to feel like they dodged a bullet.
Matt Carpenter led off with a hard single. Carlos Beltran gave the Red Sox a gift out by bunting against the shift toward third base, but Peavy, a former Gold Glove winner, made the play. It was scored as a sacrifice bunt, but it was not.
Carpenter came around to score on Holliday's hard single to right.
After Matt Adams singled, Molina played Holliday with the second run. But with Felix Doubront -- who seems to be the insurance policy in case Clay Buchholz can't go Sunday -- warming up in the bullpen, Peavy retired David Freese on a hard liner to right. Jon Jay ended the 21-pitch inning with a grounder to Pedroia at second base.
Well, that wasn't the offensive start the Red Sox were looking for.
Joe Kelly breezed through the top of the Red Sox' order in 11 pitches. He got Jacoby Ellsbury on a called strike three with a fastball registering at 98 mph. Shane Victorino followed by grounding back to the mound, and Dustin Pedroia hit a grounder to first,
Pregame: ST. LOUIS -- Jake Peavy has called it the biggest start of his career, and as distinguished as the veteran righthander's career has been, no one is about to argue with him.
Peavy takes the ball in Game 3 Saturday night at Busch Stadium with the World Series between the Red Sox and Cardinals tied a game apiece.
Peavy has pitched in four postseason games in his career, and he's pitched effectively in just one, his ALDS start against the Rays earlier this postseason. He's acknowledges he sometimes gets too amped up at times, something Red Sox manager John Farrell said the team hopes to help him temper.
"In getting to know Jake in the time he's been here, he pitches with a lot of energy. And I think the one thing he's been very candid in and honest with himself and with us is that there's a fine line there in what energy level works best for him and what takes him out of his delivery,'' said Farrell. "I keep going back to Game 4 in Tampa, I thought he went out and he was aggressive. He maintained an intensity and effort level that worked best to him."
Daniel Nava will start in left field for the Red Sox instead of Jonny Gomes. But the biggest change to the Red Sox lineup as the series shifts to a National League ballpark is this: David Ortiz will start at first base, while Mike Napoli takes a seat on the bench.
While Napoli could be a significant weapon as a pinch hitter, Farrell said he could also be used as a late-inning defensive replacement for Ortiz.
"We've done that throughout the course of the year. Unfortunately we take one of our middle‑of‑the‑order bats out, because of no DH,'' said Farrell. "But Mike is in tune with what we've done previously. If we do have a lead in the sixth or seventh inning, he's more than ready to go to pick up for David at first. That's why we've got to be a little careful when to use him as a pinch‑hitter, as well, to preserve that defensive side of it."
Willie McGee, a Cardinals legend who also played for the Red Sox in 1995, will throw out the first pitch. Colbie Caillat knocks the National Anthem out of the park, and we're ready to go.