Tampa Bay celebrated not once, but twice. Still, their victory left a sour taste in their mouths.
The Devil Rays beat the Baltimore Orioles 4-3 Wednesday night, but not before being ordered back on the field when the umpires reversed a call on what originally was ruled to be the final out at first base.
"I know they wanted to get the call right. But what I don't understand is my team is off the field ... I had guys in the clubhouse already," Tampa Bay manager Larry Rothschild fumed.
" Yeah, get the call right. But do it right away and don't let us get off the field. I've never seen it before. Never ever seen it anywhere. Little League, American Legion, girls softball, anywhere."
Surhoff, Orioles manager Mike Hargrove and first-base coach Eddie Murray argued the call, pointing to an area off the bag where they insisted Devil Rays Fred McGriff's foot was when he scooped Martinez's throw out the dirt.
That's when third-base umpire John Shulock overruled first base Brian Runge, saying McGriff's foot was off the base. So after a nine-minute delay, which included Rothschild saying he would play in protest, the game resumed.
"I know you can't protest judgment calls, but I'm protesting the fact of how it came about. That's all I can do," Rothschild said.
"I can sit on the field, and we forfeit the game, which I thought about. I really thought about just foreiting the game to make the point. But at this point, we've got to get every one we can. I'm never going to disgrace the game, but I think it's a shame."
The umpiring crew did not comment, but issued a copy of "Making The Correct Call," a handout describing the importance of umpires getting plays called correctly.
"This should answer all your questions," Shulock said.
McGriff's 399th career homer, a two-run shot off Buddy Groom with one out in the eighth inning, put Tampa Bay ahead in the eighth inning. Groom was in the Orioles clubhouse, where the television was turned off, unaware of the commotion at the end.
"We had turned it off when he called him out and started off the field," Groom said. "I said `That's the game.' Then nobody came in and we were wondering what was going on, so we turned it back on and saw what had happened. We were pulling for the guys to get me off the hook and get us a win."
McGriff had gone 36 at-bats since May 17 without a homer when he pulled a 1-2 pitch into the right-field stands as Baltimore's bullpen squandered another late-inning lead, this time denying Mike Mussina a victory.
Jim Mecir (4-1) pitched two-thirds of an inning, while Hernandez got his fifth save in nine opportunities.
Mussina allowed two runs, four hits and struck out five in seven innings. Groom (3-3) replaced him at the start the eighth and gave up a leadoff walk to Jose Guillen, who took second on Randy Winn's sacrifice bunt.
McGriff was stuck in a 7-for-40 slump when he delivered his game-winning homer, the only extra-base hit by either team.
Vinny Castilla had RBI singles in the first and sixth off Mussina, but the rest of the Devil Rays hitters were 0-for-5 with runners in scoring position against the Baltimore sarter.
Mussina is off to the worst start of his career, primarily because of poor run support this season. He ended a four-game losing streak when he beat Seattle last week and was tough on the Devil Rays after a hit batter, a walk and Castilla's RBI single gave Tampa Bay a 1-0 lead.
The right-hander retired 12 in a row before Martinez singled with two outs in the fifth and stole second.
The Devil Rays lost the first two games of the series while going 3-for-26 with runners in scoring position, and missed out on another opportunity when Gerald Williams popped out to second base to end the inning.
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