Call leading to cries for replay

PAUL NEWBERRY AP Sports Writer Published:

ATLANTA (AP) -- The NFL replacement refs are not there to kick around anymore.

Not to worry.

A familiar target has emerged.

Instead of guys wearing stripes, it's the men in blue.

Major League Baseball found itself embroiled in another postseason maelstrom over umpires -- and renewed calls for increased use of instant replay -- after a disputed infield fly call led to mayhem in the stands in the one-game, winner-take-all playoff in Atlanta.

The St. Louis Cardinals defeated the Braves 6-3 on Friday, advancing to the divisional round against the Washington Nationals. But this landmark game -- the debut of the wild-card playoff under baseball's expanded postseason format -- will long be remembered for a ruling by Sam Holbrook in the eighth inning.

Andrelton Simmons hit a pop fly that dropped safely in left field after a mix-up between two fielders, either able to have caught the ball easily. Holbrook ruled the batter out anyway under the infield fly rule. The fans at Turner Field went nuts, littering the field with beers cups, buckets of popcorn and anything else they could get their hands on, leading to a scary, 19-minute delay.

Almost as quickly as the field was covered in trash, there were immediate comparisons to the NFL's referee debacle. Someone at Turner Field even held up what was apparently a hastily crafted sign: "Replacement Umps??"

Former Braves outfielder Dale Murphy, who won two MVP awards in the 1980s, weighed in on Twitter.

He wasn't alone.

"Oh my," Murphy wrote. "Not believing this. Calls an infield fly when the ball is almost on the ground?"

"One game elimination and a call like that is made? Inexcusable," Oakland Athletics pitcher Brandon McCarthy said.

Even out in San Francisco, where the Giants host Cincinnati in Game 1 of the NL's other divisional series on Saturday, the call in Atlanta had everyone's attention.

"I didn't know it was an infield fly," reliever Jeremy Affeldt said. "I don't even know how an infield fly is an infield fly. I don't know where the line's drawn."

Baseball's official Twitter site had a sentence in its profile that said "We don't understand the infield fly rule, either." Sure, it was just somebody's attempt at humor, but that sentence was quietly zapped from the site as the trash was flying in Atlanta.

A.L. Wild Card

ORIOLES 5, RANGERS 1

ARLINGTON, Texas -- Buck Showalter and the Baltimore Orioles will get another chance to overtake the New York Yankees.

The surprising O's have already beaten some big odds, getting past the two-time defending AL champion Texas Rangers and their Japanese ace, Yu Darvish, in the win-or-go-home wild-card playoff.

Joe Saunders pitched effectively into the sixth inning at a place where he had never won, Adam Jones delivered the tiebreaking sacrifice fly and the Orioles, in the playoffs for the first time in 15 years, eliminated the Rangers 5-1 Friday night.

The Orioles advanced to play the East champion Yankees, the AL's top seed -- the teams split 18 games this season. The best-of-five division series starts Sunday at Camden Yards.

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