Atlanta wins on controversial walk-off over Nationals, 2-1

nationals_logoThird-base umpire C.B. Bucknor, running like a frightened child from a ground ball down the third-base line off the bat of Atlanta center fielder Cameron Maybin, declared the ball fair, handing the Braves a 2-1 victory over the Washington Nationals Thursday night.

Nats starter Max Scherzer (9-6) had talked his way into pitching the ninth inning of what was then a tie ballgame, after having given up a run on three hits in eight innings and 97 pitchs. Scherzer surrendered a leadoff infield single on a bleeder off the end of the bat of pinch-hitter Pedro Ciriaco.

Jace Peterson bunted Ciriaco to second, bringing up Maybin, who hit a slider down the line past Nationals third baseman Yunel Escobar that Bucknor adamantly ruled fair even as TV replays clearly showed him looking away from the ball toward the middle infield as he tried to get out of the way of the ball.

Washington manager Matt Williams tried to get the umpiring crew to request a replay, but a ground ball down the line is not a reviewable play, under the byzantine replay rules of Major League Baseball, and the crew declined to discuss the call, walking off the field as the Braves celebrated.

The loss leaves the Nats (43-36) still with a three and a half game lead on the New York Mets in the National League East.

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