ST. LOUIS — There was no dispute the St. Louis Cardinals shouldn’t have won on Yadier Molina’s double.
But they did — because by the time Cincinnati figured out what happened, it was too late.
A game with playoff implications turned on a missed call Thursday night when Molina got credit for a winning double with two outs in the ninth inning to beat the Reds 4-3.
“I just kept my head down and kept running,” Molina said. “I didn’t really hear or see anything.”
The Cardinals are one game behind San Francisco for the second NL wild-card spot. Each team has three games left.
Matt Carpenter drew a one-out walk from Blake Wood (6-5). With two outs, Molina’s one-hop hit clearly bounced off a sign above the left-field wall and caromed back into play.
Carpenter kept running and scored from first. It should have been a ground-rule double, putting Carpenter on third. Instead, the Cardinals celebrated.
Reds manager Bryan Price ran after the umpires to argue. He said he was later told he had 10 seconds after Carpenter scored to appeal for a replay.
“It’s a terrible rule,” Price said. “I mean that’s ridiculous.”
The Cardinals hurried their on-field party and zipped to the clubhouse while the Reds milled around on the field waiting for something to happen.
Crew chief and plate umpire Bill Miller said he felt he gave the Reds enough time to ask for a replay.
“In this situation, Bryan Price did not come up to the top step,” Miller told a pool reporter. “I looked into the Cincinnati dugout and Bryan Price made no eye contact with me whatsoever. And then after 30 seconds, he finally realized somebody must have told him what had happened and we were walking off the field.”
There is no disputing that the ball hit the sign, which is considered out of play and a ground rule double should have been called.
Reds left fielder Adam Duvall said the ball “definitely hit the sign.”
“I saw it. I heard it. There’s a gap in between the sign and the fence. I wasn’t sure if it was in play or not,” he said.
Duvall retrieved the ball and made a relay home.
“I’m not blaming the umpires. I’m blaming the system,” Price said. “You couldn’t hear anything. And then all of a sudden, someone is screaming, ‘the ball hit the top of the back wall.’ Which would have made it a ground-rule double.”
Price and staff didn’t get the message fast enough from their video review crew.
“Because of the crowd noise, we couldn’t hear the phone ring,” Price said. “There was no siren or blinking light to let you know.”
Said Carpenter: “The ball’s hit, I was running as hard as I can.”
“It was a fun way to win a game,” he said.
Molina and Jedd Gyorko hit solo homers for the Cardinals.
Seung Hwan Oh (6-3) wound up with the win after blowing his third save in 21 tries this season.
Cincinnati scored single runs in the eighth and ninth. Pinch hitter Scott Schebler had a two-out, two-strike infield single to make it 3-all.
Gyorko hit his team-high 28th homer off starter Dan Straily in the second. Molina hit his eighth homer in the fifth.
“That was about as good as it gets for me,” Gyorko said. “It was a good swing.”
Molina said the come-from-behind win should give his club plenty of momentum going into a final weekend series with the Pirates.
“At the end, we put together some good at-bats,” Molina said.
St. Louis rookie Alex Reyes, in his fifth major league start, gave up one run on seven hits in a 99-pitch outing. He struck out six and walked two.
Reyes, who lowered his ERA to 1.57, also drove in the go-ahead run with a groundout.
Cincinnati closed to within 3-2 in the eighth on a double by Joey Votto and an RBI single by Duvall.
Votto, who had three hits, left the game after sustaining a cut to his chin while sliding into second base. He took seven stitches.
The Reds have scored first in their last seven games.
Reds: INF Brandon Phillips was held out of the lineup for the second successive game with a sore left hand suffered on a swing Monday night.
Cardinals: OF Brandon Moss was given the day off. He is mired in a 7-for-95 skid.
Reds: RHP Josh Smith (3-2, 4.77) will face the Chicago Cubs in the opener of a three-game series in Cincinnati on Friday. He will be making his second start of the season and 32nd. appearance.
Cardinals: RHP Carlos Martinez (15-9, 3.15) will oppose Pittsburgh RHP Tyler Glasnow (0-1, 4.91) in the opener of a three-game set on Friday at Busch Stadium. Martinez is 3-5 with a 4.01 ERA lifetime against Pittsburgh. Glasnow will be making his fourth start of the season.