Third baseman Will Middlebrooks tripped Allen Craig for a game-ending obstruction call on Jon Jay's ninth-inning grounder, giving the St. Louis Cardinals a bizarre 5-4 win over the Boston Red Sox and a 2-1 World Series lead.
Boston had tied the score with two runs in the eighth, and Yadier Molina singled with one out in the ninth off loser Brandon Workman. Allen 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 grounder to diving second baseman Dustin Pedroia. He threw home to catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia, who tagged out the sliding Molina. Saltamacchia threw offline past third, and Middlebrooks, with his stomach on the field, raised both legs and tripped Craig.
Third base umpire Jim Joyce immediately signaled obstruction, and even though a sliding Craig was tagged by Saltalamacchia at the plate following the throw by left fielder Daniel Nava, plate umpire Dana DeMuth signaled safe and then pointed to third, making clear the obstruction had been called.
The Red Sox scored twice in the eighth inning to tie it 4-all. Jacoby Ellsbury led off with a single and Shane Victorino was hit by a pitch for the sixth time this postseason.
Both runners moved up on Pedroia's groundout, and David Ortiz was intentionally walked.
Cardinals manager Mike Matheny went to hard-throwing closer Trevor Rosenthal with the bases loaded, hoping for a five-out save from a rookie who has looked almost untouchable this October. But the Red Sox pushed two runs across.
Daniel Nava drove in one with a short-hop grounder that was smothered by second baseman Kolten Wong, who had just entered on defense in a double-switch.
Wong went to second for the forceout, but Nava beat the relay and Ellsbury scored to make it 4-3. Xander Bogaerts tied it when he chopped a single up the middle.
Brandon Workman jammed Matt Holliday and retired the slugger on a routine fly with two on to end the bottom of the eighth. That sent the game to the ninth tied at 4.
Holliday's two-run double put the Cardinals on top 4-2 in the seventh.
It was a tough inning for Red Sox reliever Craig Breslow. Matt Carpenter reached safely when he checked his swing on an infield single to shortstop. Carlos Beltran was grazed on the elbow pad by a pitch appearing to make no effort to get out of the way.
Junichi Tazawa came on and Holliday pulled a grounder past Middlebrooks at third. The ball kicked into the left-field corner and Holliday went all the way to third on the throw to the plate.
Tazawa then got a couple of strikeouts and prevented further damage.
Slumping Shane Victorino drew a leadoff walk from Kelly in the sixth and wound up scoring the tying run. Ortiz grounded a single off lefty reliever Randy Choate, and Nava greeted Seth Maness with an RBI single that made it 2-all.
St. Louis quickly broke ahead, scoring in the first inning for the first time this October on RBI singles by Holliday and Yadier Molina.