ST. LOUIS — In one of the strangest finishes to a World Series game, the St. Louis Cardinals emerged victorious Saturday.
Allen Craig was awarded home after obstruction was called on Boston third baseman Will Middlebrooks in the ninth inning. Craig's run gave the Cardinals a 5-4 win in Game 3 of the World Series before a record crowd of 47,432 at Busch Stadium III.
It was the first World Series game decided by an obstruction call.
The Cardinals, who blew a pair of two-run leads, grabbed a 2-1 advantage in the best-of-seven series.
"Baseball is a crazy game, and anything can happen," said Cardinals reliever Trevor Rosenthal, who was credited with the victory with 1 2/3 scoreless innings. "I don't know exactly what the rule is or what the rulebook says about that, but it seemed pretty evident that there might have been some obstruction.
"I'm just happy it worked out in our favor tonight."
With one out, Yadier Molina singled to right-center against losing pitcher Brandon Workman. Koji Uehara relieved to face Craig, a pinch-hitter. Craig jumped on Uehara's first pitch and lined a double into the left-field corner, sending Molina to third.
The Red Sox brought their infield in against Jon Jay, who hit a grounder to the right of second baseman Dustin Pedroia.
Pedroia made a sensational play and threw home to get Molina for the second out. Catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia then fired wide to third, where Craig was safe as the throw got away.
Middlebrooks and Craig became entangled as Craig broke for the plate. Third-base umpire Jim Joyce signaled obstruction, and when left fielder Daniel Nava fired home, plate umpire Dana DeMuth gestured toward third to reiterate the obstruction call.
"Obstruction is the act of a fielder obstructing a runner when not in the act of fielding a ball," said umpire John Hirschbeck, the crew chief who was working the left-field line. "It does not have to be intent. Once he has the opportunity to field the ball, he can no longer in any way obstruct the runner. That's basically the rule."
Red Sox manager John Farrell was matter-of-fact.
"Tough way to have a game end, particularly of this significance, when Will is trying to dive inside (the baseline) to stop the throw," Farrell said. "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, it's a tough pill to swallow."
Craig was mobbed by teammates at the plate, but was assisted off the field by trainer Greg Hauck, possibly reinjuring his left foot that has limited him to roles as a designated hitter and pinch-hitter. However, Craig said after the game that he was fine.
Nava's infield out drove in a run and Xander Boegarts followed with an RBI single in the eighth as the Red Sox tied the game at 4.
Jacoby Ellsbury singled to center against Carlos Martinez to open the inning, and Martinez then hit Shane Victorino with a pitch.
With the runners moving, Pedroia grounded out to shortstop, and David Ortiz was then walked intentionally to load the bases.
Cardinals manager Mike Matheny went to Rosenthal. Nava hit a one-hopper to the left of second baseman Kolten Wong, who forced Ortiz at second as Ellsbury scored to make it 4-3. Bogaerts then hit a bouncer up the middle that caromed off shortstop Pete Kozma's glove and into center to score Victorino with the tying run.
Matt Holliday shot a double into the left-field corner in the seventh to give the Cardinals a 4-2 lead.
Matt Carpenter singled against reliever Craig Breslow to fuel the inning. Carlos Beltran then was nicked in the sleeve by a pitch. Holliday followed with his double past third, and he advanced to third on a futile relay throw home to try to get Beltran.
Holliday, a precious insurance run, was stranded at third when Matt Adams and Molina struck out and Jay flied out.
Nava's single against Seth Maness drove in Victorino in the sixth to pull the Red Sox into a 2-2 tie.
Victorino walked against Joe Kelly to start the sixth. One out later, Ortiz singled to right against Randy Choate as Victorino took third. Maness relieved Choate and Nava singled to left to score Victorino and make it 2-2.
Pinch-hitter Mike Carp's fielder's choice scored Boegarts in the fifth to bring Boston within 2-1.
Bogaerts led off with a triple to right-center against Kelly, who then walked Saltalamacchia. Stephen Drew struck out, and pitcher Jake Peavy was lifted in favor of Carp.
Carp hit a bouncer over the mound that forced Saltalamacchia at second as Boegarts scored.
Holliday and Molina stroked RBI singles against Peavy to give the Cardinals a 2-0 lead in the first.
Carpenter fueled the uprising when he singled to right and advanced to second on Beltran's sacrifice.
Holliday followed with a liner inside the right-field line that easily scored Carpenter to make it 1-0. After Adams singled, Molina singled to left to score Holliday to make it 2-0.
Peavy worked out of a huge jam in the fourth.
Molina singled to lead off and David Freese walked. Jay singled to center, but Molina held at third after aggressively rounding the bag.
Kozma struck out looking, Kelly popped out to second and Carpenter popped out to short to end the threat.
Peavy allowed two runs on six hits in four innings, with one walk and four strikeouts. Kelly allowed two runs on two hits in 5 1/3 inning, walked three and struck out six.
Contact reporter David Wilhelm at email@example.com or 239-2665.