Cards win disputed NL wild card playoff

Atlanta Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez argues an infield fly ruling with umpires during the eighth inning.
Atlanta Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez argues an infield fly ruling with umpires during the eighth inning.

  • NEW: The Cardinals beat the Braves 6-3 to advance in baseball’s playoffs
  • An umpire makes a controversial call against the Braves in the eighth inning
  • Atlanta’s manager protests and fan throw debris onto the field
  • The call is upheld; the Braves later threaten, but fail to break through

Atlanta (CNN) — A controversial — and potentially pivotal — call in a one-game playoff Friday night between the Atlanta Braves and St. Louis Cardinals prompted a vehement argument by the Braves’ manager and fans to toss debris onto the field.

The incident occurred in the eighth inning of the newly introduced wild card postseason game, in which the two teams battled for the right to advance to a National League division series.

At the time, St. Louis led Atlanta by a 6-3 score. With one out and runners on first and second base, Braves shortstop Andrelton Simmons skied a pop-up to shallow left field.

Amid apparent confusion between two Cardinals’ players, the ball dropped — which could have led to the Braves loading the bases. But instead, an umpire ruled Simmons out, citing the infield fly rule. The rule is traditionally invoked on pop flies in the infield, in order to prevent fielders from letting a ball drop — in order to get two outs instead of one, had they caught the ball.

Atlanta manager Fredi Gonzalez stormed out of the dugout to protest the call, while angry fans pelted the field with cups and other debris.

After an 18-minute delay in which an umpire watched some replays, play finally resumed — with the call still valid, and the Braves then playing the game under protest.

Braves’ pinch-hitter Brian McCann then walked before the Cardinals’ Jason Motte struck out Michael Bourn to end the inning.

After two quick outs in the ninth inning, Atlanta’s Chipper Jones — the team’s legendary third baseman who has announced this is his last season — got on base with an infield hit.

Freddie Freeman then rocketed a ground rule double, bringing the tying run to the plate in the form of Dan Uggla. Yet the second baseman ended the game — and the Braves’ season and, with it, Jones’ career — by grounding out to second base.

Atlanta fans responded to the final out with more boos, as well as a smattering of more debris flying onto the field. The disgust was interrupted only by a chant of “Chipper,” recognizing the end of the fan favorite Jones’ career.

With the 6-3 victory, St. Louis advances to play the National League East champion Washington Nationals in the next round of the playoffs. The San Francisco Giants face off against the Cincinnati Reds in the league’s other postseason series.