Braves edge Pirates in 19th on contested play
By Karen Price
Published: Wednesday, July 27, 2011,
ATLANTA — The longest game in the history of the Pirates and Braves was decided by the umpire early Wednesday morning, as Jerry Meals ruled Julio Lugo safe at home in the 19th inning.
It was a call that was immediately disputed by catcher Michael McKenry. Third baseman Pedro Alvarez's throw home clearly beat Lugo, and replays showed McKenry tagging Lugo on the leg. Pirates manager Clint Hurdle immediately ran onto the field and argued as the umpires left the field.
It didn't do any good, as the Braves celebrated their 4-3 victory at 1:49 a.m., 6 hours, 39 minutes after the game began.
"(Meals) said he made a swipe tag, and he never touched him," Hurdle said. "You like to see the game finished by the players, win or lose. For it to end like that is as disappointing as it gets in a game. You had every player in the game laying it out there. Two pitchers from the bullpen threw over 80 pitches. And for the game to end that way, it's really too bad. The game deserves better than that. The game tonight deserved way better than that."
Daniel McCutchen, who was starting his sixth inning of relief on a night when he wasn't supposed to pitch at all, walked Lugo after getting the first out. Jordan Schaefer, who was scratched from the starting lineup because of a left hand injury but entered the game in extra innings, hit a single to right-center field, moving Lugo to third. When Scott Proctor hit the ball to Pedro Alvarez, Lugo took off for home.
Alvarez threw home, Lugo slid feet-first, and McKenry reached out and tagged his leg. McCutchen was so convinced Lugo was out that he was yelling for McKenry to throw to first for an unconventional double-play.
McKenry was shocked when Lugo was ruled safe.
"I was kind of baffled, I didn't know what to do or what to say," he said. "It was a tough situation."
Meals said that he saw the tag, but McKenry "looked like he oléd him, and I called him safe for that."
"I looked at the replays and it appeared he might have got him on the shin area," Meals said. "I'm guessing he might have got him, but when I was out there when it happened I didn't see a tag.
"I just saw the glove sweep up. I didn't see the glove hit his leg."
Lugo told reporters he thought Meals made the right call.
"I'm being honest...I didn't feel him tag me," said Lugo, who didn't begin to celebrate until after Meals made the call.
McKenry took it easy on Meals, saying it was a tough call.
But it really wasn't.
"There's always controversial calls that are really, really close, but I've never seen anything that bad," said Pirates starter Jeff Karstens, who lasted five innings in his shortest outing since May 29. "I don't really have a comment for it. Maybe he just didn't want to be here anymore. It's just a shame. You can't really put it into words. For some reason, someone didn't want us to play any more, so the game was ended."
Both teams had several chances to end it before that.
In the 17th, after Cristhian Martinez pitched six scoreless innings of relief for the Braves, they turned to Scott Proctor, who had a 7.36 ERA.
When he issued a leadoff walk to Xavier Paul, it seemed a good omen for the Pirates. But with two outs, Paul at third and Neil Walker at second, Alvarez flied out to make it 1 for 7 at the plate with a first-inning single and a sacrifice bunt in the 13th.
In the 18th, they had McKenry on second and Lyle Overbay on third after he broke an 0 for 7 streak with a leadoff single, but Paul lined out to first for the third out.
Chris Resop pitched a scoreless 10th, then the Braves missed a chance in the 11th after Jason Grilli gave up a single and hit the next batter to put two on with one out. They both advanced to scoring position on a sacrifice bunt but Martin Prado grounded out to end it.
"We threw it all out there, from 7:10 p.m. until the end," Hurdle said. "I couldn't be prouder of our guys and I'm sure (manager) Fredi (Gonzalez, who was ejected by Meals along with Nate McLouth for arguing a strikeout against McLouth in the ninth) and Carlos (Tosca) couldn't be prouder of their guys. The disappointing game is for the game to finish the way it finished, on a wrong call."
The game beat the Pirates' previous longest of six hours, 12 minutes, set on Aug. 25, 1979, and as also the Braves' longest since they moved to Atlanta in 1966, beating the previous time of six hours and 10 minutes set on July 4, 1985.
Click here to see the play for yourself.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Ex-Pirate Jones close to signing with Marlins
- Pirates’ Snider talks about surgery, rebuilding swing
- Film about former Pirates pitcher Dock Ellis in prestigious festival
- Bucs acquire catcher and designate McKenry for assignment
- Pirates make offers to 7 players at arbitration deadline
- Cost of doing business increasing for Pirates