LOS ANGELES -- Twice on Thursday the Cardinals waited on a replay, hopeful that it could provide an opening in a game that had few others. In this case, even video couldn't help their cause.
The Cardinals, who eventually lost, 1-0, watched as an umpire-initiated review in the seventh went in the Dodgers' favor, as did one two innings later. The first kept the game scoreless, the other quieted St. Louis' attempt at a comeback and dropped the team to 2-9 in manager Mike Matheny's challenges this season.
"So close," Matheny said afterward. "It's a game of inches."
At Matheny's urging, crew chief Bill Miller called for a seventh-inning replay to review a play at the plate that, if reversed, would have given the Cardinals the first run of the game. At issue was whether Dodgers catcher Drew Butera left Allen Craig a pathway to the plate as Craig attempted to score from second on Jon Jay's two-out single to left.
It was a bang-bang play -- made such by a tremendous throw from Matt Kemp -- and a one-minute, eight-second review determined that there was no violation of Rule 7.13, a rule implemented this year by Major League Baseball and the Major League Baseball Players Association to help reduce the number of collisions at home plate.
"I'm just looking to get in there somehow," Craig said. "I felt like he gave me enough of the plate to be safe and that the timing of it was so close. But it just wasn't close enough.
"He made an amazing throw. I think if the catcher has to reach to his right at all or if really even bounces in front of the plate at all, it gives me another split-second to get in there. I guess you have to tip your hat to him. He made a really good throw and Butera made a really good tag. It's one of those things that's just extremely frustrating."
By confirming the call of home-plate umpire Vic Carapazza, it was ruled that Butera left Craig with a lane to the plate. The out ended the Cardinals' threat and closed a seven-inning start for Dodgers starter Josh Beckett.
It marked the first time this season that the Cardinals have asked for a review of this new rule, one that Matheny was paramount in pushing over the offseason.
"After I saw the replay, it didn't look like a block at all," Matheny said. "It looked exactly like we're teaching it. He had the whole half plate half open and he went down on his right knee and took the glove to the runner. That's just how we teach it."
Matheny then used his challenge in the ninth, knowing a reversal would be a long shot but seeing no reason to hold the challenge in his pocket. In question was whether shortstop Miguel Rojas held his tag on Peter Bourjos, who popped off second after stealing the base. Just seconds earlier, Bourjos had come in as a pinch-runner, representing the potential tying run.
"Obviously that's not what he's looking for, or we are," Matheny said. "He gets a lot of speed going, you don't know how each track is going to slide. It's not like he's had a lot of practice on it. And sometimes you just don't get enough slow down on the slide. But there's something there that can be done, whether it's getting a hand on the bag or something along those lines."
It took one minute and 37 seconds for the second out of the inning to be confirmed.
"I know initially when he tagged me, I was still the bag," Bourjos said. "Then I felt like it came off as I came off. I don't know. Obviously, in the ninth inning there I'm trying my best to get to second base and run as fast as I can. I don't think getting thrown out is an option. I'm going in there as hard as I can with as much momentum as I can."
Jenifer Langosch is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, By Gosh, It's Langosch, and follow her on Twitter @LangoschMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.Less