Although they are not one to make excuses, it was hard not to see a controversial call in the fifth inning as one reason for Boston's latest setback.
Second base umpire Marty Foster was the man in the middle of the mess, getting an earful from Dustin Pedroia, Adrian Gonzalez and Red Sox manager Terry Francona after a play that helped the White Sox score the tying runs.
The stage was set when Tim Wakefield, holding a 3-1 advantage, allowed the first two men to reach in the inning. Speedster Juan Pierre grounded into a force play, leaving runners at the corners with one out. Pierre then broke for second on a delivery to Alexei Ramirez but stopped in between first and second and was caught in a rundown.
Wary of the runner on third, Pedroia kept one eye on him and one on Pierre, who tried to sneak by the second baseman on a throw back from Gonzalez. Pedroia swiped a tag onto Pierre's back and turned to look the other runner back to third.
Boston thought it had the second out of the inning, but Foster said Pedroia never touched him. Pedroia was fired up, as was Francona when he did not get what he wanted in the ensuing discussion.
"I thought that was a poor call. I thought it was a poor explanation," Francona said. "The way I understand it, on an angle like that, you're allowed to get help. And he didn't want to get help. Not sure I understood that. That's a tough play for us right there."
Indeed it was. Ramirez ended up grounding a ball to shortstop for the second out, but the runner scored from third. Had Pierre been called out, the inning would've been over on that play and the score would have remained 3-1. Instead, Wakefield had just a one-run advantage and even that was lost when Carlos Quentin followed with a double to score Pierre.
Pedroia insisted his glove got Pierre's back. Francona saw the same thing, and continued to be bothered by Foster's lack of understanding of the rule.
"I just wanted to get it right. You're allowed to [ask for help] and I know that's right," Francona said. "He wouldn't do it. Said it was his call. If that's the case, I wish he would've gotten it right."
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