CINCINNATI -- One way or the other, controversy was going to consume either the Reds or Indians in the seventh inning of their series finale on Sunday at Great American Ball Park. Before winning, 4-3, in 11 innings, Cincinnati was leading, 3-1, with two outs in the top of the seventh when a strange play allowed Cleveland to tie the game.
After Grady Sizemore hit a two-out RBI triple to the right-field corner that scored Luis Valbuena, Jerry Hairston Jr.'s relay throw to third base went past Adam Rosales.
Sizemore broke for home as left fielder Jonny Gomes alertly ran in and backed up the play with a sliding stop of the errant ball in front of the visitors' dugout. Gomes fired a perfect throw home, where the sliding Sizemore was ruled out on a tag by catcher Ryan Hanigan, according to home plate umpire Mark Wegner. "I don't think I've ever seen that one," Reds manager Dusty Baker said. "No. 1, I didn't think we'd throw the ball because I thought it was a sure triple. That was a very heads-up play by Jonny Gomes to be there backing up. When I saw that ball didn't go into the dugout, I was trying to figure out who was there throwing the ball. It was Jonny." Third out, right? Wrong. Both teams were headed off the field until the run was allowed to score when third-base umpire Rob Drake ruled interference on Rosales for standing on the base line in Sizemore's way. Gomes' potential web gem was wiped out. "My best play of the year and I've got nothing to show for it," Gomes said. "I'm chewing rocks." Television replays showed Rosales standing on the edge of the dirt by third base but hardly in Sizemore's way. Baker argued with Drake and Wegner to no avail as 27,796 fans at Great American Ball Park booed heartily. "He just said that Rosales has to give the baserunner the right to run," Baker said. "I didn't see an obstruction. I just couldn't believe it." "I didn't feel Grady even grazed me at all," Rosales said. "I couldn't believe it. After Jonny made that outstanding play, I don't know how you could take that away." Had Gomes' nice play held up and Sizemore not scored, Wegner would have had Indians manager Eric Wedge in his face instead of Baker. Replays also showed that Sizemore eluded Hanigan's tag and was likely safe. "I went out there because I thought he was safe," Wedge said. "The way he maneuvered his body and got in there, I thought he was safe. They had called him out." "It's tough. I felt like I got in," Sizemore said. "But I looked at the replay, and it's tough to see. The camera angle was pretty far back. I wasn't aware [obstruction had been called]. We didn't necessarily run into each other. He was more in my path, and I had to hesitate a little bit. I was a little surprised [Drake] called it." Sizemore was credited with the triple and went home on an error charged to Rosales that tied the game at 3 and cost starter Johnny Cueto a possible victory. "At the time, we were all upset, but we had to go on," Baker said. "I had to stay in the game to manage. It took a while to get out of you, but I just reminded the guys to forget it. They were talking about it and the coaches were talking about it." The controversy, at least on the Reds' end, was minimized after they pulled out the win on Alex Gonzalez's walk-off RBI double to center field in the 11th. "It's over," Rosales said. "We won. That's the most important thing."
Mark Sheldon is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.