Friday, December 6, 2013
The Associated Press
ATLANTA - David Freese and the St. Louis Cardinals rediscovered their postseason touch. Chipper Jones and the Braves kept throwing the ball away. And the Atlanta fans turned Turner Field into a trash heap.
Atlanta Braves Manager Fredi Gonzalez argues a point with umpire Sam Holbrook after a disputed infield fly ruling in the eighth inning against St. Louis. Fans threw trash onto the field, stopping the game for 19 minutes, after the call.
The Associated Press
In a game protested by the Braves, Matt Holliday homered and the defending World Series champion Cardinals took advantage of three Atlanta throwing errors -- the most crucial of them by the retiring Jones -- to take the winner-take-all playoff 6-3 on Friday.
MLB executive Joe Torre said the protest was denied. St. Louis advanced to face Washington in the best-of-five division round, beginning Sunday at Busch Stadium.
The Braves are done for this season, after another heartbreaking loss in the playoffs.
The 40-year-old Jones is all done, period. He managed an infield hit in his final at-bat but threw away a double play ball in the fourth, which led to a three-run inning that wiped out Atlanta's early 2-0 lead behind Kris Medlen.
"Ultimately, I feel I'm the one to blame," Jones said. "That should have been a tailor-made double play."
But this one-and-done game will be remembered for the eighth, when a disputed call on a fly ball that dropped in short left field cost the Braves a chance at extending Jones' career.
The Braves thought they had the bases loaded with one out after the ball fell between two fielders, who got mixed up over who had called for it. But left-field umpire Sam Holbrook called Andrelton Simmons out under the infield fly rule -- even though the ball landed at least 50 feet beyond the dirt.
When the fans realized what had happened, they littered the field with beer cups, popcorn holders and other trash, leading to a 19-minute delay as the Cardinals retreated to their dugout.
Holbrook and umpiring supervisor Charlie Reliford defended the call.
"Once that fielder established himself, he got ordinary effort," Holbrook said, referring to shortstop Pete Kozma calling for the ball, before he veered away at the last moment. "That's when the call was made."
The stoppage only delayed the inevitable. When play finally resumed, Brian McCann walked but Michael Bourn struck out to end the threat. Dan Uggla grounded out with two aboard in the ninth to end it, leading to one more wave of trash throwing as the umps scurried off the field.
ORIOLES 5, RANGERS 1: Joe Saunders pitched effectively into the sixth inning and Adam Jones hit a tiebreaking sacrifice fly as Baltimore beat two-time defending AL champion Texas in the wild-card playoff at Arlington, Texas.
Nate McLouth scored in the first and drove in two runs after that for manager Buck Showalter's surprising Orioles, who made their first postseason appearance in 15 years.
Baltimore advances to play the Yankees in the best-of-five division series. Game 1 is Sunday at Camden Yards.
Texas loaded the bases with two outs in the ninth before David Murphy flied out.
Ryan Flaherty of Portland started at second base for Baltimore, and had a single that led to a seventh-inning run in his three at-bats.