ATLANTA (AP) - Brian McCann knew it was a homer.
So did the Florida Marlins.
But the only guys who mattered were wearing blue, and they needed to see a replay.
Upon further review, it was a win for the Atlanta Braves.
Turns out, the ball bounced off the top of the outfield wall and struck a second barrier _ a clear home run. After just 86 seconds, crew chief Tim McClelland popped out of the tunnel alongside the Florida dugout, looked toward McCann and twirled his right index finger.
“I knew it was a homer,” McCann said. “I was telling Tim McClelland, ‘I promise you it’s a homer, I heard it hit the back.’”
The use of replay to get a crucial call right will surely renew debate over whether baseball should expand its use of replay for rulings such as the one that deprived Detroit’s Armando Galarraga of a perfect game this season.
For now, the Braves are just glad that a limited video system helped them pull out their majors-leading 23rd win in the final at-bat and maintain a two-game lead in the NL East over the Philadelphia Phillies.
The Braves trailed 6-1 in the eighth, but a throwing error let in two unearned runs that cut the gap to 6-4. In the ninth, Brooks Conrad led off with a walk and Matt Diaz tied the game with a two-run homer off Florida closer Leo Nunez.
With two outs, McCann yanked a 1-2 pitch toward the right-field seats.
The ball didn’t quite make it to the crowd, but it went far enough.
“Yep, that was a home run,” said Florida manager Edwin Rodriguez, whose team took a devastating loss in its long-shot bid to get back in the playoff race. “It was a home run all the way.”
Right fielder Mike Stanton had the best look.
“It disappeared for a minute,” he said. “There was like a little rail, and it was behind it. Oh yeah, there was no doubt.”
The call was especially important given the closeness of the NL East race. The division-leading Braves maintained a two-game lead on Philadelphia, which completed a sweep at San Diego with a 5-0 victory.
“There’s not a better feeling,” McCann said. “It makes it better being in a playoff race.”
The decision came almost two years to the day that the replay rule went into effect. On Aug. 28, 2008, baseball officials allowed umpires to start looking at video to determine whether a potential homer was fair or foul, actually left the playing field or was subject to fan interference.
The Marlins had no complaints.
“They got it right,” Dan Uggla said. “He hit a home run, and he deserved it.”
This wasn’t Atlanta’s biggest comeback of the season _ a seven-run ninth gave Atlanta a 10-9 victory over Cincinnati back in May _ but this finish will be remembered right alongside the game that ended with Conrad’s walk-off grand slam, especially if this team goes on to make the playoffs for the first time since 2005.
“What team hits two homers in the ninth inning to win a ballgame? Hopefully, that means we’re a team of destiny,” Diaz said. “If this continues, we’ll either all have heart attacks or make the playoffs.”