Cards through despite controversy
The St Louis Cardinals marched through to another post-season series and sent the Atlanta Braves into the close season on a night enlivened by a moment of controversy at Turner Field.
- Related Content
St Louis were 6-3 winners in the National League wild-card game as they kept up their defence of the World Series, and the Washington Nationals await them in a best-of-five tussle next, beginning on Sunday.
The Braves reacted with dismay in the eighth inning when, already trailing 6-3, they looked to have the bases loaded with one out after a fielding error.
Yet a crucial call went against them, umpire Sam Holbrook citing the infield fly rule as he called Andrelton Simmons out, and chaos broke out as enraged home fans hurled various missiles from the stands. Atlanta were left with men on second and third bases but two out.
Play was stopped for 19 minutes before a degree of calm could be restored, and St Louis soon swerved the immediate danger and saw out their win.
Matt Holliday had earlier homered and Allen Craig had an RBI double for St Louis, while David Ross hit a home run for Atlanta.
Atlanta had launched a protest over Holbrook's ruling, but it was rejected swiftly after the game ended by Joe Torre, Major League Baseball's executive vice-president of baseball operations.
The Texas Rangers also bowed out at the wild-card stage, losing 5-1 to the Baltimore Orioles.
Texas had finished the regular season particularly poorly, suffering a three-game sweep of losses to the Oakland Athletics who leapfrogged them to take the divisional title in the American League West.
After winning just four of their last 13, it was hardly a surprise to see the Rangers struggle in another important game, even against such infrequent play-off contenders as the O's, who had last enjoyed a post-season win in 1997.
Joe Saunders delivered a solid pitching performance to nullify the Texas threat, with a sacrifice fly from Adam Jones allowing JJ Hardy to score and put Baltimore decisively 2-1 ahead in the sixth inning.
AL East champions the New York Yankees await Baltimore in their best-of-five series, starting on Sunday.