St. Louis beats Atlanta in wild NL wild-card matchup

St. Louis 6, Atlanta 3

  • Follow Baseball

ATLANTA — Talk about a wild card.

Back | Next
A security official shouts to fans to not throw trash on the field during the eighth inning when a disputed infield fly rule call hurt Atlanta's chances to rally.  TODD KIRKLAND/ASSOCIATED PRESS
A security official shouts to fans to not throw trash on the field during the eighth inning when a disputed infield fly rule call hurt Atlanta's chances to rally.

This one was just plain wild.

Chipper Jones played his final game. The Atlanta fans turned Turner Field into a trash heap after a disputed infield fly. And the St. Louis Cardinals did what they always seem to do in October.

Celebrated another postseason triumph.

Matt Holliday homered and the Cardinals rallied from an early deficit, taking advantage of three Atlanta throwing errors – the most crucial of them by the retiring Jones – to beat the Braves 6-3 in a winner-take-all wild-card playoff Friday.

In the eighth inning, there was more crazy throwing, this time by an irate crowd that littered the field to protest an umpiring decision that went against the Braves. The Cardinals fled for cover, the Braves protested and the game was halted for 19 minutes while workers cleared up all the beer cups, popcorn holders and other debris.

St. Louis manager Mike Matheny was asked if he’d ever seen anything like it.

“Not in the United States,” he said.

Major League Baseball 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, the recipients of 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 2-0 lead behind Kris Medlen.

“Ultimately, I feel I’m the one to blame,” Jones said.

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. 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 sellout crowd of 52,631 fans realized what had happened, and a second out go up on the scoreboard, they littered the field with whatever they could get their hands on.

Holbrook defended the call, even after he looked at the replay.

“Once that fielder established himself, he got ordinary effort,” he said, referring to shortstop Pete Kozma calling for the ball, then veering away at the last moment as left fielder Holliday drifted in. “That’s when the call was made.”

“I was under it,” Kozma said. “I should have made the play. I took my eyes off it. I was camped under it.”

Braves president John Schuerholz apologized for the actions of the crowd, saying a “small group of those fans acted in a manner that was uncharacteristic and unacceptable.”

“When cans are flying past your head, yeah, a little bit,” Holbrook said.

The stoppage only delayed the inevitable. When play resumed, Brian McCann walked to load the bases but Michael Bourn struck out to end the threat. Dan Uggla grounded out with two aboard in the ninth to finish it, leading to one more wave of trash throwing as the umps scurried off the field – probably feeling a lot like those replacement NFL refs who caught so much grief.

The infield fly is a complicated rule, designed to prevent infielders from intentionally dropping a popup with more than one runner on base and perhaps get an extra out.

No one could ever remember it being applied like this. And, after past postseasons dotted by contested calls, this play will certainly lead to another slew of October cries for more instant replay.

This is what some fans feared about a one-game playoff – a disputed call determining a team’s fate for an entire season.

Jones refused to pin this loss on the umps.

“That one play didn’t cost us the game. Three errors cost us the game,” he said. “We just dug ourselves too big a hole.”


Drafted: 1990*

Debut: Sept. 11, 1993

Games: 2,499

Hits: 2,726

Homers: 468

RBI: 1,623

Average: .303

TITLES: 8 time all-star, NL MVP in 1999, 2008 NL batting title

RECORDS: Third on the all-time home run list among switch-hitters behind Mickey Mantle (536) and Eddie Murray (504)

FINAL AT-BATS: Second inning, struck out swinging; Third inning, grounded out to second; Sixth inning, popped out to second; Ninth inning, singled to second

*First overall by Braves

Comments (7) Add comment
ADVISORY: Users are solely responsible for opinions they post here and for following agreed-upon rules of civility. Posts and comments do not reflect the views of this site. Posts and comments are automatically checked for inappropriate language, but readers might find some comments offensive or inaccurate. If you believe a comment violates our rules, click the "Flag as offensive" link below the comment.
rebellious 10/05/12 - 09:26 pm
Remember it for

the three critical errors. Sure the call was bad, and they played the rest of the game under protest, but take away those errors and the results are different. I just hate it for Chipper. He left when the time was right, and it would have been so sweet to leave being at the SHOW. Fans could have been a little more courteous, but then again a belly fulla beer can do strange things to ya...

Techfan 10/06/12 - 05:38 am
New York Times-"The debate

New York Times-"The debate over Friday night’s call will most likely go on for a while. But in a move to save some face, Major League Baseball quickly edited its bio on the league’s official Twitter page. Until Friday night, it had included the irreverent phrase “We don’t understand the infield fly rule, either.” ".

justthefacts 10/06/12 - 06:59 am
Talk about Denial

Umpire Holbrook says he is confident in his call. Yeah, right. If so, he belongs to a very small crowd of one. Still, the errors are the reason the game was lost. Wait till next year!

wildman 10/06/12 - 07:48 am
Bad Call

As everyone knows that was one of the worst calls ever, especially in a game this important. I hate it for Chipper, Damn Good Brave!

seenitB4 10/06/12 - 07:53 am
Hah rebel

but then again a belly fulla beer can do strange things to ya...

Ya got THAT right.....:)

soapy_725 10/06/12 - 09:25 am
The most misunderstood play in baseball

We always had a copy of the LL rule book in our hip pocket. Umpires seldom do (-:

The rule is designed to protect the base runners from being knocked out of an inning by "deceit".

Had the St Louis SS allowed the ball to fall in front of him, he could have made an inning ending double play.

The term "infield" is a misnomer. And therefore a judgement call rather that bring out a tape measure to determine the distant from the infield surface.

The fathom play at second base. Player protection.

This was not a well played game by either team and reminiscent of the Cardinals-Tigers WS of a few years ago.

One and out may not work?

"Ordinary effort"

Any fair fly ball that could have been caught by an infielder with ordinary effort is covered by the rule, regardless of where the ball is caught. The ball need not be caught by an infielder, nor must it be caught in the infield. For example, if an infielder retreats to the outfield in an effort to catch a fly ball with ordinary effort, the infield fly rule is invoked, even if an outfielder ultimately caught the ball, and even if no infielder attempted to make a play on the ball. Similarly, a fly ball within the infield that could have been caught by an infielder with ordinary effort, but is caught by an outfielder, would also be covered by the rule.

Ordinary effort given all circumstances must exist for the infield fly rule to be invoked. Thus, weather, wind, lighting, positioning of the defense, and the abilities of the players involved in the play must be taken into account. An infield fly in a major league game, thus, might not be so in a junior high school game due to the ability of the players involved.

An infield fly is a judgment call and may be declared by any umpire on the field. It may not be appealed or overturned by any other umpire.

soapy_725 10/06/12 - 09:34 am
My support of the Braves Organization...

ended with the move of Chipper to left field to allow for another third baseman, "Vinny who", with home run power. This did not happen. Chipper was out of position. Chipper got hurt. The remainder of his career was diminished by this management move. Who knows how many more 30HR and 100 RBI season were in his future?

Chipper did not object. He is a team player.

A bad Marketing decision by the front office. "Those that can't teach" is another "none truism".

soapy_725 10/06/12 - 09:37 am
Class fans who do not know the rules.

Class fans who cannot enjoy a sport event without alcoholic drugs.
Class fans who would not go to the stadium if it did not have an "amusement park".

Where were these die hard fans when Dale Murphy was in Atlanta?

etlinks 10/06/12 - 09:41 am
I agree, very bad call.

I agree, very bad call. Holbrook is full of something but not beer.

Riverman1 10/06/12 - 08:54 pm
The ump made the call way too

The ump made the call way too late is one of the points. It's supposed to be called early on a routine fly so the runners can advance at their own risk. I saw what happened, but since the ump hadn't already made the call by that time he shouldn't have called the infield fly rule. The Cardinals clearly made a mistake among themselves is why that ball fell. Crazy.

rmwhitley 10/06/12 - 02:20 pm
I'm just glad

Chipper is gone. He's just too glib about bad decisions he's made on and off of the field.

Back to Top
Search Augusta jobs