WASHINGTON -- Despite a series of missteps in the field, at the plate and on the basepaths, the Washington Nationals were clinging to a one-run lead against the Atlanta Braves in the seventh inning when Brian Jordan hit a shot to left field.
Carried by the wind, the ball drifted toward the corner. Nationals outfielder Marlon Byrd, in foul territory, leaped for the ball, which dropped over the wall, just beyond his glove. A home run, tying the game at 2, or a simple foul?
Third-base umpire Jerry Layne thought it was a homer, prompting a lot of jumping and arm-waving by Nationals relievers in the nearby home bullpen, and drawing Washington manager Frank Robinson out of the dugout.
Crew chief Ed Montague, who was umpiring at second base, thought it was foul and changed the call. That drew an argument from Braves manager Bobby Cox, to no avail.
Jordan returned to the plate, grounded out on the next pitch and, after each team later tacked on a run, the Nationals had a 3-2 victory over the Braves on Monday.
"Nobody seemed like they saw it, and it's a shame. We compete so hard and that changes the whole ballgame," Jordan said. "It's a 2-2 ballgame, and they took it away from us."
Washington, which has won two straight after a five-game losing streak dropped it below .500, seemingly tried its best to hand over the game. But the Nationals overcame one error and two other fumbles in the field, two runners caught stealing, another runner thrown out at home, and their seventh consecutive game scoring three runs or fewer.
"Jerry went out on the ball. He kind of lost it when it got up," Montague said. "Coming over from second base, I don't have it hitting the pole. I still don't have it hitting the pole. The ball came straight down, and I've got it on the other side of the pole."
TV replays appeared to show the ball hit the black base of the foul pole, and Nationals closer Chad Cordero said the ball had a mark on it. So how did Robinson persuade the umpires to change the call?
"I didn't argue. I reasoned with (Layne)," Robinson said. "I just asked him if he would get another opinion."
And did the manager get a view of a replay?
"I didn't see anything. I'm not looking for it," he said with a smile.
Cox said members of the Braves who saw a replay in the clubhouse came running into the dugout, yelling, "It's fair!"
The umpires "missed it. What are you going to do, shoot 'em? You can't," Cox said. "They made a call, and it's too bad, because they had it right. The guy that was supposed to call it had it right."
Cox said he thought Montague might have been swayed by the animated Nationals relievers.
"Bullpens are supposed to react that way on balls down the line," he said. "We teach them to do that."
In the end, Jordan was sent back to the plate with a 1-2 count. After getting thrown out by Ohka, Jordan threw his batting helmet from near first base to the dugout, drawing jeers from the crowd of 39,705.
Ohka then got pinch-hitter Pete Orr to fly out, finishing up another strong outing. The right-hander was 1-3 with a 5.85 ERA after going just three innings in a loss to the Mets on April 23. Since then, including a banishment to the bullpen, he has won three straight decisions and lowered his ERA to 3.20.
Byrd hit his run-scoring doubles in the fourth and sixth off starter Kyle Davies (2-1), who gave up two runs and seven hits over 5 1/3 innings. Brad Wilkerson hit his major league-leading 22nd double and came home on Guillen's single in the seventh off Roman Colon, making it 3-1.
Since coming over from the Phillies in a May 14 trade, Byrd is hitting .371 with eight RBI. He credited hitting coach Tom McCraw with helping smooth out his stroke and Robinson with providing a mental boost.
Robinson, Byrd said, has "shown that he has confidence in me. ... Hopefully I can keep producing."
The Nationals needed him to on a day that the Braves took a 1-0 lead in the third thanks to Vinny Castilla's error on what looked to be a double-play grounder. Second baseman Jamey Carroll also failed to make a play on a grounder in that inning, though it was ruled a single, and fumbled another ball later but managed to get an out.
|Manager Bobby Cox pleads the Braves' case after an umpire reversal turns a homer into a foul ball. (AP)|
|Players of the Game|
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|Rafael Furcal, SS||2||0||0||0||2||0||0||.229|
|Marcus Giles, 2B||3||0||0||1||1||0||2||.287|
|Kelly Johnson, LF||3||0||0||0||1||0||2||.000|
|Chipper Jones, 3B||4||0||0||0||0||0||0||.319|
|Adam LaRoche, 1B||4||0||0||0||0||0||1||.245|
|Andruw Jones, CF||4||1||1||1||0||0||1||.262|
|Johnny Estrada, C||4||1||1||0||0||0||0||.272|
|Brian Jordan, RF||3||0||1||0||0||0||0||.238|
|Kyle Davies, P||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.000|
|John Foster, P||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.000|
|a- Pete Orr, PH||1||0||0||0||0||0||0||.286|
|Roman Colon, P||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.000|
|Kevin Gryboski, P||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.000|
|a-flied out for Foster in the 7th|
|HR - Andruw Jones (12, C. Cordero)|
|SH - Kyle Davies 2 (3)|
|RBI - Marcus Giles (14), Andruw Jones (30)|
|2-OUT RBI - Andruw Jones (16)|
|Team LOB - 5|
|DP - Estrada-Furcal|
|Kyle Davies (L,2-1)||5.1||7||2||2||3||4||0||1.15|
|IBB - Schneider by Kyle Davies|
|HBP - Byrd (by Kevin Gryboski)|
|WP - Kyle Davies (2)|
|Pitches-Strikes - Kyle Davies 106-66, John Foster 6-3, Roman Colon 11-9, Kevin Gryboski 13-8|
|Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Kyle Davies 5-5, John Foster 1-1, Roman Colon 2-1, Kevin Gryboski 1-2|
|Batters Faced - Kyle Davies 24, John Foster 2, Roman Colon 5, Kevin Gryboski 4|
|Brad Wilkerson, CF||3||1||1||0||1||2||1||.286|
|Jamey Carroll, 2B||4||0||0||0||0||1||1||.252|
|Jose Guillen, RF||4||0||2||1||0||0||0||.296|
|Nick Johnson, 1B||4||2||3||0||0||0||1||.317|
|Vinny Castilla, 3B||3||0||0||0||1||0||1||.284|
|Marlon Byrd, LF||3||0||2||2||0||1||1||.354|
|Brian Schneider, C||1||0||0||0||1||0||0||.222|
|a- Gary Bennett, PH-C||2||0||0||0||0||0||3||.231|
|Cristian Guzman, SS||4||0||1||0||0||0||6||.187|
|Tomo Ohka, P||1||0||0||0||0||0||0||.267|
|b- Tyrell Godwin, PH||1||0||0||0||0||0||0||.000|
|Gary Majewski, P||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.000|
|Chad Cordero, P||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.000|
|a-popped out for Schneider in the 6th|
|b-grounded out for Ohka in the 7th|
|2B - Brad Wilkerson (22, Colon), Nick Johnson 2 (12, Davies, Davies), Marlon Byrd 2 (3, Davies, Davies)|
|SH - Tomo Ohka (1)|
|RBI - Jose Guillen (28), Marlon Byrd 2 (8)|
|2-OUT RBI - Jose Guillen (9), Marlon Byrd (3)|
|CS - Brad Wilkerson (4, 2nd base by Davies/Estrada), Nick Johnson (5, 2nd base by Davies/Estrada)|
|Team LOB - 8|
|DP - Guzman-N. Johnson, Castilla-N. Johnson|
|E - Jamey Carroll (3, Misplayed grounder), Vinny Castilla (3, Misplayed grounder)|
|Tomo Ohka (W,4-3)||7||2||1||0||4||0||0||3.20|
|Gary Majewski (H,7)||1||0||0||0||0||0||0||1.19|
|Chad Cordero (S,12)||1||1||1||1||0||0||1||1.13|
|Pitches-Strikes - Tomo Ohka 104-64, Gary Majewski 9-7, Chad Cordero 11-7|
|Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Tomo Ohka 15-6, Gary Majewski 1-2, Chad Cordero 1-2|
|Batters Faced - Tomo Ohka 27, Gary Majewski 3, Chad Cordero 4|
|Attendance - 39705|
|Game Time - 2:43|
|Temperature - 80|
|Umpires - Home - Tom Hallion, First Base - Tony Randazzo, Second Base - Ed Montague, Third Base - Jerry Layne|