In the end, close play not a factor for Pirates

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A year from now, Jon Jay might be called out at third.

That's when Major League Baseball will use expanded instant replay on close calls in-game, but Sunday night it was most certainly not available when Jay was called safe by third base umpire Paul Nauert in the fifth inning on a double steal.

The tag on a throw from Russell Martin to Pedro Alvarez was close in real time.

But replay on the TBS feed, along with screengrabs and GIFs that made their way around the Internet, showed Alvarez made the tag in time.

If the call had gone the Pirates' way it would have ended the inning on a double play, and the Pirates would have kept a 2-0 lead intact.

Instead, Carlos Beltran came to the plate and drove in the two runners to tie the score, 2-2.

Martin said it was too quick to tell unequivocally if he had Jay.

"It was a called third strike on a 3-2 count. Just got the ball and got rid of it as quick as I could. The throw was a little bit off line and from my view it was pretty close," said Martin.

Jay had gotten on base with a single off Francisco Liriano to start the inning and advanced to second when Pete Kozma drew a walk.

Liriano struck out pitcher Joe Kelly on a bunt attempt for the first out, then Matt Carpenter struck out looking.

On the third called strike, the two runners broke for second and third, and Martin was up and firing toward Alvarez to get the out at third and end the inning.

"I couldn't really tell. It was a bang-bang play," said Martin. "I'm not really sure. I don't even know what the replay showed."

Alvarez appeared to block the base with his glove and tag Jay's left foot before it hit the bag, but he was called safe.

"I thought it was a pretty close play," said Alvarez.

MLB announced in August that instant replay will be expanded next year to go beyond the current system which is only used to judge boundary calls on home runs.

All of the particulars -- including replay on everything but balls and strikes -- are expected to be finalized in November when the owners vote on the proposal.

"Obviously we want it to go our way every time," said shortstop Clint Barmes. "I haven't looked at the replay. But it's part of the game. "There is human error in this game. It's been played for over a hundred years. You always want those calls to go your way, especially during this time of the year."

Sunday, it turned out to not be such a critical moment.

"Fortunately we battled through and we pulled out a win today," said Barmes. "Would the game have gone differently?"

The Pirates twice overcame a rally by the Cardinals.

Martin drove in Andrew McCutchen with a sacrifice fly in the sixth to take a 3-2 lead, then Alvarez and Martin drove in a run each in the eighth to make it 5-3 after Beltran tied it on a solo shot in the eighth.

"We've been down a few times this year. We've been able to battle back and win some games and when you do that you start gaining confidence," said Martin.

"And right now we're playing good baseball, pretty much like we have all year long. ... The confidence level is high. And the stakes couldn't be any higher.

"We're having fun playing the game and going out there and competing."


Jenn Menendez:, 412-263-1959 and Twitter @JennMenendez.


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