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Umpire Meals: Call 'might have' been wrong

Umpire Meals: Call 'might have' been wrong

Umpire Meals: Call 'might have' been wrong
ATLANTA -- Veteran umpire Jerry Meals felt he was right with the call he made that ended the 4-3, 19-inning win the Braves claimed over the Pirates at Turner Field on Tuesday night. But after going to the dressing room to unwind and look at the play, the veteran umpire saw he might have been wrong to rule that Julio Lugo eluded Pirates catcher Michael McKenry's tag.

"I saw the tag, but he looked like he oléd him and I called him safe for that," Meals said. "I looked at the replays and it appeared he might have got him on the shin area. I'm guessing he might have got him, but when I was out there when it happened, I didn't see a tag.

"I just saw the glove sweep up. I didn't see the glove hit his leg."

As he and his teammates celebrated the marathon victory, Lugo said Meals made the right call. But it was apparent other Braves were among the many surprised to see the veteran infielder ruled safe.

"I don't know how I'd handle that being a catcher if he did tag him and he was out," Braves catcher David Ross said. "That'd be a tough one to swallow. You grind it out. That kid [McKenry], the whole team, but the catcher caught 19 innings. That's a lot to swallow when you're grinding it out, calling the game."

Lugo unwisely broke toward the plate on Scott Proctor's one-out grounder that Pirates third baseman Pedro Alvarez fielded in the grass before making a throw that clearly beat the Braves infielder to the plate. But after McKenry swiped the tag, Meals ruled he did not make contact with a sliding Lugo, who excitedly stepped on the plate once he realized he was not called out.

"I was kind of baffled," McKenry said. "I didn't know what to do or what to say. It was a tough situation ... I didn't say anything that was disrespectful. I don't think he deserves that. He did a great job all night. It was a tough call. I told him, 'I tagged him. I tagged him.'"

Pirates manager Clint Hurdle rushed the field after the call and continued to yell at Meals as he was exiting the field toward the Pirates dugout, where a number of stunned players stood and looked at the veteran umpire.

"He said he never tagged him," Hurdle said. "I saw him tag him three feet in front of the plate and that's what it looked like when I went back and looked at it."

When asked, Lugo said he felt the right call was made and did not think McKenry made contact with him.

"There's always controversial calls that are really, really close," Pirates starter Jeff Karstens said. "But I've never seen anything that bad. I don't really have a comment for it. Maybe he just didn't want to be here anymore. It's just a shame. You can't really put it into words. He made a great play. For some reason, somebody didn't want us to play anymore. So the game was ended."

Mark Bowman is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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