ST. LOUIS -- From his perch in the St. Louis Cardinals' dugout, Trevor Rosenthal watched Game 3's last play unfold.
"I'm not sure what happened," he said, "but I'm glad we won."
And win St. Louis did, thanks to a rare but correct obstruction call on Boston Red Sox third baseman Will Middlebrooks that enabled Allen Craig to score the run which gave the Cardinals a 5-4 victory Saturday and a 2-1 lead in the World Series.
With runners at second and third and one out after Craig doubled Yadier Molina to third, Jon Jay slapped a grounder up the middle. Second baseman Dustin Pedroia made a diving stop and threw home to easily erase Molina.
Catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia fired to third in an attempt to double up Craig, but the ball bounced past Middlebrooks and into foul ground. Middlebrooks fell over Craig and impeded his path to the plate, an infraction immediately called by third base umpire Jim Joyce.
Left fielder Daniel Nava's throw home beat Craig. But plate umpire Dana DeMuth quickly gave the safe sign and pointed at Joyce's outstretched arm -- the umpire's sign for obstruction -- as St. Louis players streamed from the dugout to celebrate.
Boston manager John Farrell immediately charged from his dugout to argue.
"It's a tough way to lose," Farrell said. "By the letter of the rule, it's the right call. But it's a tough one to swallow."
Crew chief John Hirschbeck said Middlebrooks tripped Craig. When informed by a writer that Middlebrooks said there was nothing else he could do to get out of Craig's way, Hirschbeck added that intent has nothing to do with determining obstruction.
"The runner has every right to go unobstructed to the plate," Joyce said. "Craig couldn't advance naturally to the plate."
The error on Middlebrooks made a winner of Rosenthal, who worked 1 2/3 innings but gave up a game-tying RBI single to Xander Bogaerts with two outs in the top of the eighth. Brandon Workman, who allowed Molina's single before Farrell relieved him with closer Koji Uehara, took the loss.
Boston starter Jake Peavy worked four innings, allowing six hits and two runs while walking one and striking out four. St. Louis starter Joe Kelly pitched 5 1/3 innings, giving up two hits and two runs while issuing three walks and striking out six.
Boston tied the score with two runs in the eighth off Carlos Martinez and Rosenthal. Nava, whose RBI single in the sixth made it 2-2, scored Jacoby Ellsbury with a fielder's choice bouncer. Bogaerts, who tripled in the fifth and scored the team's first run on Mike Carp's fielder's choice, followed with his two-out chopper off the glove of shortstop Pete Kozma to bring home Shane Victorino with the equalizer.
It erased a 4-2 lead that St. Louis built with one swing -- Matt Holliday's two-run double to the left field corner off Junichi Tazawa in the seventh that scored Matt Carpenter and Carlos Beltran.
St. Louis jumped all over Peavy in the bottom of the first. Carpenter led off with a single, moved to second on Beltran's sacrifice bunt and rode home on Holliday's single to right.
Matt Adams and Molina followed with singles. Molina's hit knocked in Holliday for a quick 2-0 lead as a Busch Stadium-record crowd of 47,432 shook with delight.
Things settled down from there until the Red Sox worked their way back into the game, setting up the dramatic last three innings and the wacky ending.
"I'm happy it worked out in our favor," Rosenthal summed up.
It was the second straight game in which the Cardinals scored the go-ahead run as the result of a wild throw past third, a coincidence Farrell rued afterwards.
"It was a bang-bang play," he said. "We've forced a couple of throws and it's proven costly."
NOTES: St. Louis hosted its 60th World Series game, more than any other city except New York (191). ... Bogaerts, who turned 21 years old on Oct. 1, is the 11th-youngest position player to start a postseason game. Five of the 10 younger players -- Ty Cobb, Travis Jackson, Freddie Lindstrom, Mickey Mantle and Willie Mays -- are in the Hall of Fame. ... Former St. Louis OF Willie McGee threw out the ceremonial first pitch.