Controversial ending allows Cards walkoff win

1:56 AM ET

ST. LOUIS — A controversial 4-3 Cardinals win could prove critical in the National League postseason race after umpires ruled that the Cincinnati Reds didn’t declare their intention to challenge a call quickly enough at the conclusion of Thursday night’s game.

Cardinals in receiving mood after gift win

The Cardinals’ win against the Reds on a controversial call has brought St. Louis back from the brink of postseason elimination.

Yadier Molina doubled to left field with two outs and Matt Carpenter at first base in the bottom of the ninth inning at Busch Stadium. The ball caromed off an advertisement for the Missouri Lottery beyond the wall, and Carpenter raced home with the winning run.

However, the ball should have been ruled dead, forcing Carpenter to return to third. Cincinnati manager Bryan Price followed the umpires off the field and spoke with them in the tunnel, but according to the crew chief, the Reds’ call to review the play was too late and the winning run stood.

“In this situation, Bryan Price did not come up on the top step [of the dugout],” crew chief Bill Miller told a pool reporter. “We stayed there. I waited for my partners to come off the field. I looked into the dugout, the Cincinnati dugout, and Bryan Price made no eye contact with me whatsoever and then, after 30 seconds, he finally realized. Somebody must have told him what had happened, and we were walking off the field.”

Miller said none of the four umpires had an inkling the ball hit the sign, or they would have reviewed it themselves.

Teams are supposed to demonstrate their intent to review a play within 10 seconds and make up their mind within 30 seconds, but on plays that end the game, that decision must be “immediate,” according to Replay Review Rule II D-3.

“It’s a terrible rule,” Price said. “I mean, that’s ridiculous.”

Price and staff didn’t get the message fast enough from their video review crew.

“Because of the crowd noise, we couldn’t hear the phone ring,” Price said. “There was no siren or blinking light to let you know.”

As the Cardinals mobbed Molina between first and second base, several Reds players milled about on the field as if awaiting a replay review.

“I saw the Reds still on the field, but I didn’t know what happened, so I came inside, and they were saying it was a ground-rule double,” Molina said. “I didn’t know what happened at the moment.”

Reds left fielder Adam Duvall said the ball “definitely hit the sign.”

“I saw it. I heard it. There’s a gap in between the sign and the fence. I wasn’t sure if it was in play or not,” he said.

Duvall retrieved the ball and made a relay home.

Cardinals manager Mike Matheny, whose team trails the San Francisco Giants by one game for the final wild-card spot, acknowledged that the ground rules at Busch Stadium made that a dead ball.

The Cardinals didn’t stick around long to see if there would be a review.

“They celebrated on the field, and there’s no reason to hang around,” Matheny said.

Carpenter was about halfway between second and third base when the ball hit the padded sign, so he would have been ordered back to third had umpires realized it was a dead ball.

“When the ball’s hit, I’m running as hard as I can. I never looked or saw where it was,” Carpenter said. “I’m picking up the third-base coach and got the wave, and that’s a fun way to win a game.”

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