ST. LOUIS – Allen Craig slid home and it sure looked as though he was out.
A rare obstruction call by an umpire let Craig score with two outs in the bottom of the ninth inning, finishing off a mad-cap play that sent the St. Louis Cardinals over the Boston Red Sox 5-4 Saturday night for a 2-1 lead in the World Series.
It was as crazy an ending in a World Series game as anyone had seen, and created a wild scene at home plate. The Cardinals rushed out to congratulate an ailing Craig while the Red Sox rushed to the exact same spot to argue the call.
A walk-off win? More like a trip-off.
“I’m in shock right now,” Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina said. “Wow, it’s unbelievable.”
Third baseman Will Middlebrooks tripped Craig after a wild throw got away following Jon Jay’s ninth-inning grounder.
Boston tied the score with two runs in the eighth before Molina singled with one out in the ninth off loser Brandon Workman. Craig, just back from a sprained foot, pinch hit and lined Koji Uehara’s first pitch down the left-field line for a double that put runners on second and third.
With the infield in, Jay hit a grounder to diving second baseman Dustin Pedroia.
He made a sensational stab and threw home to catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia, who tagged out the sliding Molina.
But then Saltalamacchia threw wide of third while trying to get Craig. After the ball got by, Middlebrooks, with his stomach on the field, raised both legs and tripped Craig, slowing him down as he tried to take off for home plate.
Third base umpire Jim Joyce immediately signaled obstruction, and even though a sliding Craig was tagged by Saltalamacchia at the plate following the throw by left fielder Daniel Nava, plate umpire Dana DeMuth signaled safe and then pointed to third, making clear the obstruction had been called.
“It’s part of the game,” Cardinals slugger Matt Holliday said. “The guy was in his way. … We’ll take it.”
Craig returned for this Series from a sprained left foot that had sidelined him since early September. After an awkward slide on the final play, he hobbled off the field in apparent discomfort.
The Red Sox scored twice in the eighth inning to tie it 4-all. Jacoby Ellsbury led off with a single and Shane Victorino was hit by a pitch for the sixth time this postseason. Both runners moved up on Pedroia’s groundout, and David Ortiz was intentionally walked.
Cardinals manager Mike Matheny went to hard-throwing closer Trevor Rosenthal with the bases loaded, hoping for a five-out save from a rookie who has looked almost untouchable this October. But the Red Sox pushed two runs across.
Daniel Nava drove in one with a grounder that was smothered by second baseman Kolten Wong, who had just entered on defense in a double-switch.
Wong went to second for the forceout, but Nava beat the relay and Ellsbury scored to make it 4-3. Xander Bogaerts tied it when he chopped a single up the middle.
Cardinals starter Joe Kelly set down his first nine batters. The Red Sox seemed to see him better the next time around in coming back from a two-run deficit to tie it at 2-all. Kelly gave up two runs on two hits in 51/3 innings. He fanned six and walked two.
Boston starter Jake Peavy allowed two first-inning runs, then wriggled out of bases-loaded, no-out jam in the fourth to keep the Cardinals’ lead at 2-0. He was pulled after four innings.