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Four late-inning moments that were overshadowed by the obstruction call

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Xander Bogaerts was nearly a hero for Boston. (USA Today)

The moment everybody’s talking about following Game 3 of the World Series is the game-ending obstruction call that gave the St. Louis Cardinals a 5-4 victory over the Boston Red Sox. And rightfully so, since it was a wild play and the first time a World Series game ever ended on such a call.

However, before the call overshadowed everything we’d seen in the first eight-plus innings, there were several other important moments in the game — particularly in the latter innings — that helped shape the ending and nearly made heroes out of several different players.

Here’s a quick look back at those moments.

1. Carlos Beltran’s hit-by-pitch leads to seventh inning rally
With the game tied 2-2 and Matt Carpenter already on first base, Carlos Beltran was grazed on his protected left elbow by a Craig Breslow pitch. It was a little bit controversial in and of itself, since Beltran didn't make much effort to get out of the way, but there was no real argument to be made. The HBP set the wheels in motion for a big inning, as Matt Holliday followed with a two-run double to put the Cardinals up 4-2.

2. Kolton Wong’s diving stop helps and hurts Cardinals
Freshly inserted at second base following an eighth inning double-switch, Kolten Wong made a terrific lunging stop to keep Daniel Nava's sinking line drive from scooting into the outfield.

At the time, Boston had the bases loaded with one out. It was a tough in-between play for Wong, who was on the move and had to play the ball on a short-hop. He did, and with runner David Ortiz frozen between first and second, it should have been an easy flip to first to get Nava followed by a short rundown to get Ortiz for an inning-ending double play. However, Wong attempted to start a conventional double play, which wasn‘t going to happen with Nava coming down the line,

The runner from third was going to score one way or the other since Nava was going to be safe or the Cardinals were going to lose the force out, changing the dynamic of the play entirely, but at that point the Cardinals could trade the one run for two outs. It’s tough to process all of that at once, but the continuation of the inning led to this.

3. Xander Bogaerts’ game-tying single in eighth
Bogaert had an up and down Game 3. His lead-off triple in the fifth led to Boston’s first run against Joe Kelly. In the sixth, his 4-6-3 double play killed a Boston rally that was on the verge of turning the game around completely. The 21-year-old would get one more chance in a high pressure situation with two outs in the eighth, and came up big with an RBI single to tie the game 4-4.

With a different finish, there would be a lot of talk about how undeniably fearless Bogaerts has played in the postseason. He’s provided a nice spark for Boston’s offense.

4. Dustin Pedroia’s diving play sets up wild finish
If not for Dustin Pedroia’s incredible stab, the final play would have been relatively anticlimactic. Farrell finally turned to Uehara with the outcome hanging in the balance, but elected to pitch to Jon Jay rather than walk him to load the bases. It nearly paid off thanks to Pedroia’s effort and throw home to nab Molina, but the game got away seconds later when Jarrod Saltalamacchia's aggressive throw sailed past Will Middlebrooks.

It was almost as if the game was destined to go in St. Louis' favor no matter how resilient the Red Sox proved to be throughout the night. No one play illustrated that better than the final one.

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Mark Townsend is a writer for Big League Stew on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at bigleaguestew@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!

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