Umpire changes homer call to foul ball

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Despite a series of missteps in the field, at

the plate and on the basepaths, the Washington Nationals were

clinging to a one-run lead against the Atlanta Braves in the

seventh inning when Brian Jordan hit a shot to left field.

Carried by the wind, the ball drifted toward the corner.

Nationals outfielder Marlon Byrd, in foul territory, leaped for the

ball, which dropped over the wall, just beyond his glove. A home

run, tying the game at 2, or a simple foul?

Third-base umpire Jerry Layne thought it was a homer, prompting

a lot of jumping and arm-waving by Nationals relievers in the

nearby home bullpen, and drawing Washington manager Frank Robinson

out of the dugout. Crew chief Ed Montague, who was umpiring at

second base, thought it was foul and changed the call. That drew an

argument from Braves manager Bobby Cox, to no avail.

Jordan returned to the plate, grounded out on the next pitch,

and after each team later tacked on a run, the Nationals had a 3-2

victory over the Braves on Monday.

"Nobody seemed like they saw it, and it's a shame. We compete

so hard and that changes the whole ballgame," Jordan said. "It's

a 2-2 ballgame, and they took it away from us."

Washington, which has won two straight after a five-game losing

streak dropped it below .500, seemingly tried its best to hand over

the game. But the Nationals overcame one error and two other

fumbles in the field, two runners caught stealing, another runner

thrown out at home, and their seventh consecutive game scoring

three runs or fewer.

Byrd had two RBI doubles, Jose Guillen drove in the other run,

and Tomo Ohka (4-3) allowed one unearned run and two hits over

seven innings. That all helped, as did the reversal on Jordan's


"Jerry went out on the ball. He kind of lost it when it got

up," Montague said. "Coming over from second base, I don't have

it hitting the pole. I still don't have it hitting the pole. The

ball came straight down, and I've got it on the other side of the


TV replays appeared to show the ball hit the black base of the

foul pole, and Nationals closer Chad Cordero said the ball had a

mark on it. So how did Robinson persuade the umpires to change the


"I didn't argue. I reasoned with [Layne]," Robinson said. "I

just asked him if he would get another opinion."

And did the manager get a view of a replay?

"I didn't see anything. I'm not looking for it. I won't even

watch 'SportsCenter' tonight," he said with a smile.

Cox said members of the Braves who saw a replay in the clubhouse

came running into the dugout, yelling, "It's fair!"

The umpires "missed it. What are you going to do, shoot 'em?

You can't," Cox said. "They made a call, and it's too bad,

because they had it right. The guy that was supposed to call it had

it right."

Cox said he thought Montague might have been swayed by the

animated Nationals relievers.

"Bullpens are supposed to react that way on balls down the

line," he said. "We teach them to do that."

In the end, Jordan was sent back to the plate with a 1-2 count.

After getting thrown out by Ohka, Jordan threw his batting helmet

from near first base to the dugout, drawing jeers from the crowd of


Ohka then got pinch-hitter Pete Orr to fly out, finishing up

another strong outing. The right-hander was 1-3 with a 5.85 ERA

after going just three innings in a loss to the Mets on April 23.

Since then, including a banishment to the bullpen, he's won three

straight decisions and lowered his ERA to 3.20.

Gary Majewski followed with a perfect eighth, and Chad Cordero

earned his 12th save despite giving up Andruw Jones' 12th homer, a

solo shot with two outs in the ninth.

Byrd hit his run-scoring doubles in the fourth and sixth off

starter Kyle Davies (2-1), who gave up two runs and seven hits over

5 1/3 innings. Brad Wilkerson hit his major league-leading 22nd

double and came home on Guillen's single in the seventh off Roman

Colon, making it 3-1.

Since coming over from the Phillies in a May 14 trade, Byrd is

hitting .371 with eight RBI. He credited hitting coach Tom McCraw

with helping smooth out his stroke and Robinson with providing a

mental boost.

Robinson, Byrd said, has "shown that he has confidence in me.

... Hopefully I can keep producing."

The Nationals needed him to on a day that the Braves took a 1-0

lead in the third thanks to Vinny Castilla's error on what looked

to be a double-play grounder. Second baseman Jamey Carroll also

failed to make a play on a grounder in that inning, though it was

ruled a single, and fumbled another ball later but managed to get

an out.

Nick Johnson and Wilkerson were caught stealing, and Guillen was

thrown out at the plate by Rafael Furcal with runners on second and

third and none out in the sixth.Game notes
The Nationals took RHP John Patterson off the DL (back

spasms) so he can start Tuesday. They also activated INF Wil

Cordero, and sent OF Tyrell Godwin and INF Brendan Harris to

Triple-A New Orleans. ... Nationals C Brian Schneider was lifted

for a pinch-hitter after getting hit on his left hand by Marcus

Giles' backswing.