6 May 14

The final play encapsulated the game and the rules’ changes that define present-day baseball. And the Giants lost tonight in the second game of a thrilling and tied series in Pittsburgh.

Starling Marte came to bat in the bottom of the ninth with two outs and belted a ball that nearly cleared the right field wall. Hunter Pence played it and threw it to Ehire Adrianza, the second baseman and cut off man, who threw wildly to Pablo Sandoval at third base.

As Sandoval retrieved the ball, Marte scrambled to his feet from his slide and scampered home. Sandoval recovered the ball and threw to Buster Posey covering but not blocking home plate. Marte slid head first with arms outstretched, of course. The umpire called Marte out. Pittsburgh challenged the call. According to one replay, Marte touched home with his right arm just prior to Posey’s tag to Marte’s left shoulder just near his neck. New York overturned the umpire’s call, ruled Marte safe, ending the game with a victory for the Buccs. The victory came on an unearned run.

The play, the attempted put-out, and the overturned call brought to the fore the new rules regarding covering but not blocking the plate and the new rule about challenges to calls. Before these changes, Marte would have been called out as the catcher had the ball at home plate before Marte arrived so long as the catcher held the ball without dropping it. But those days are over.

Tim Hudson was the hard-luck loser for the Giants. He pitched 8.2 innings and allowed but 2 runs, only one earned. He struck out 5 and walked 1 as he scattered 5 hits.

The two games in Pittsburgh have been outstanding games though very different. The slug-fest of the previous night gave way to the more carefully and closely played game of tonight. They were very different but very thrilling.

The rubber game is tomorrow played in day light just a few brief hours after the thrilling final play tonight. Tim Lincecum will take the pearl for the Giants.

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