Joe Amalfitano, Dodger third base coach, spotted it right away.
He came racing toward home plate screaming at home-plate umpire Brian Gorman after he saw Pittsburgh Pirate catcher Angelo Encarnacion pick up a pitch in the dirt with his mask in the bottom of the 11th inning of Saturday night's game at Dodger Stadium.
Encarnacion was called for catcher's interference, which allowed Roberto Kelly to score the winning run from third as the Dodgers defeated the Pirates, 11-10, in one of the most bizarre endings since Thursday's 2-1 forfeit loss to the St. Louis Cardinals after fans threw souvenir baseballs onto the field.
When Gorman asked for the ball, Encarnacion even gave it to him with his mask.
"It was something that happened so quickly," Encarnacion said. "I didn't even realize that I got the ball with my mask. I thought I grabbed it with my glove. Then I heard the umpire say, 'Let me see the ball,' so when I put the ball inside my mask and gave it to him, they said I caught the ball with my mask.
"It was unintentional. You don't want to make a mistake in that situation. You just want to keep the ball in front of you. I feel a bit bad because it happened in that situation with the winning run on third base. I thought I made a good block."
Umpire Harry Wendelstedt, the crew chief, didn't hesitate to award the Dodgers the winning run because of Encarnacion's error.
"You cannot catch a thrown or pitched ball with equipment detached from its proper place on the body," Wendelstedt said. "So in this case, we had to score the guy. It doesn't happen every day. I've seen it twice in my 30 years in the National League."
Pirate Manager Jim Leyland immediately lodged a protest with the umpiring crew; however, Leyland said Sunday that he doesn't plan to follow through with it because the umpires made the correct ruling.
"Most people didn't realize what the catcher had done," Wendelstedt said. "When they saw it [on the replay], I believe they understood why we ruled that way."
Dodger Manager Tom Lasorda, who lost his argument with umpires Bob Davidson and Jim Quick in the forfeit loss to the Cardinals, didn't have any trouble convincing Gorman and Wendelstedt of the violation.
"We lost a game exactly like that here against San Diego in 1992," Lasorda said. "So we gave one away and we got one back because of that."
The unusual finish concluded a marathon game that lasted four hours 34 minutes, ending at 12:42 Sunday morning.
Eric Karros went three for five with four RBIs and two game-tying hits as the Dodgers rallied from a 7-2 deficit in the seventh inning and a three-run deficit in the 10th.
With the Dodgers, who scored twice in the sixth and seventh innings, trailing 7-6 with one out in the ninth, Karros fouled off several pitches before he doubled in Jose Offerman to send the game to extra innings.
The Dodgers looked as if they were done after the Pirates, who had 22 hits, scored three runs in the top of the 10th, but Mike Piazza doubled in two runs with two outs and Karros singled in Piazza to tie it, 10-10.
The Pirates loaded the bases in the 11th, but came away empty-handed after relief pitcher Pedro Astacio struck out third baseman Jeff King to end the inning.
(BEGIN TEXT OF INFOBOX / INFOGRAPHIC)
Each runner including the batter-runner may, without liability to be put out, advance . . .
(d) Two bases, if a fielder deliberately touches a thrown ball with his cap, mask or any part of his uniform detached from its proper place on his person. The ball is in play.
Source: Official Baseball Rules