Stumbling Red Sox: fall into 2-1 Series deficit

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Back in 1975, Cincinnati pinch-hitter Ed Armbrister wasn’t called for interference by plate umpire Larry Barnett when he blocked Red Sox catcher Carlton Fisk on a 10th-inning bunt at Riverfront Stadium. Fisk’s throw went off the glove of shortstop Rick Burleson, putting runners on second and third. Joe Morgan’s RBI single gave Cincinnati a 6-5 win, and the Reds took the title in seven games.

This time, the Red Sox overcame deficits of 2-0 and 4-2. It was 4-all in the ninth when Yadier Molina singled with one out in the ninth off loser Brandon Workman and Craig pinch hit and lined Koji Uehara’s first pitch down the left-field line for a double that put runners on second and third.

With the infield in, Jon Jay hit a two-hop grounder to a diving Pedroia at second. He made a backhand stop and threw home to Saltalamacchia, who had the ball 15 feet before the sliding Molina arrived at the plate.

Saltamacchia’s throw to third in a try for Craig was about 18 inches to the fair side of the base and bounced into foul territory. Middlebrooks, reaching into fair territory, fell over third base and Craig’s leg. And as left fielder Daniel Nava chased down the ball, Middlebrooks, with his stomach flat on the field, raised both legs and tripped Craig.

Third base umpire Jim Joyce immediately signaled obstruction. Even though a sliding Craig was tagged by Saltalamacchia at the plate following the throw by Nava, plate umpire Dana DeMuth signaled safe and then pointed to third, making clear the obstruction had been called.

“When I saw it on TV, from the replay, I didn’t see how it was obstruction,” Saltalamacchia said. “He’s laying on the ground. Craig was actually out of the baseline, trying to jump over him.”

All of this would have been unnecessary had the Red Sox been able to throw to third base without sailing the ball toward the left-field seats. Red Sox manager John Farrell said in hindsight, he probably should have double-switched in the eighth, which would have taken Saltalamacchia out of the game.

This wasn’t the Red Sox of the 2000s, who got the job done. This was the Boston of 1918-86, who found a way to lose.

Craig may have fallen at third base, but it was the Red Sox who flopped.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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