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ST. LOUIS - Their names will be forever intertwined, much like their bodies were briefly tangled on the play that decided Game 3 of the World Series and perhaps tilted the championship toward the St. Louis Cardinals.

One wound up getting engulfed by jubilant teammates even though he never reached home plate with the game's final run. The other one wound up costing the Boston Red Sox the game, even though he said time and again he couldn't have done anything different.

They have somewhat different views of what happened, but regardless, Allen Craig and Will Middlebrooks are now part of World Series lore.

Craig, the lumbering first baseman who missed most of September and the first two rounds of the playoffs with a sprained foot, was credited with scoring the winning run in the Cardinals' 5-4 victory Saturday when Middlebrooks was called for obstruction in the wackiest ending to a World Series game in memory.

St. Louis leads the series 2-1 and will host the next two games.

"It was just a crazy play, having to do the obstacle course to get home and sprint home as fast as I could for the first time in two months,'' Craig said. "You know that's the hardest I've tried to run.''

GALLERY: An unprecedented World Series finish

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With one out in the ninth and the game tied 4-4, a pinch-double by Craig had sent Yadier Molina to third. The Red Sox brought the infield in and Jon Jay's hard chopper off Koji Uehara was snagged by second baseman Dustin Pedroia, who fired to the plate to easily throw out Molina.

Craig had gone back and forth between second and third, and when he tried to advance, catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia threw the ball past a diving Middlebrooks at third. When Craig attempted to get up from his slide and scamper home, he tripped over Middlebrooks, then was apparently thrown out at home by left fielder Daniel Nava.

Except third-base umpire Jim Joyce ruled Middlebrooks had obstructed Craig, who was awarded home plate to end the game in a state of confusion, mixed with merriment among the Cardinals and frustration among the Red Sox.

TRUE BLUE: Umps get this one right

"Maybe 75% of the guys didn't have any idea what happened,'' Cardinals right fielder Carlos Beltran said, "but we were jumping and celebrating and happy to be able to win.''

The Red Sox, who had twice come back from two-run deficits, felt a chance to send the game into extra innings had been taken away. Craig would have been the third out.

Furthermore, Middlebrooks argued, he had done nothing wrong.

"It's tough to swallow because I have to go down for that ball,'' he said. "I'm not in the baseline. I'm five feet inside of it. He (Joyce) said I have to make an attempt to get out of there or I have to get out of the way. I went to get up and he (Craig) was on top of me. There's nothing really I can do there.''

Middlebrooks appeared to lift his feet as Craig was trying to get past him, which Joyce noticed. But the veteran umpire said that didn't play a significant role in his decision.

NIGHTENGALE: Sox's shock can't erase right call

Simply put, Middlebrooks was in the way, and according to the rule, that's all that matters. Middlebrooks said he didn't attempt to trip or obstruct Craig, but intent is irrelevant.

"He was still in the area where the baserunner needs to go to advance to home plate,'' Joyce said. "The baserunner has every right to go unobstructed to home plate, and unfortunately for Middlebrooks, he was right there.''

As one wave of reporters gave way to another, Middlebrooks insisted he had no choice but to dive for the errant throw, which left him in Craig's way.

"It blows your mind to lose a game like that,'' Middlebrooks said. "I've said it a hundred times, you literally can't do anything different there.''

FARRELL: Boston manager admits a regret or two

For Craig, who rejoined the lineup as a DH in the first two games in Boston, this was a most unusual way to contribute to a victory. He led the club with 97 RBI and batted .315 during the regular season, but forcing the action on the basepaths is not his forte.

Moreover, he limped off the field and offered no guarantees about his availability for tonight's Game 4.

It was all worth it, though.

"I slid in and I didn't know if I was out or safe,'' Craig said. "I just looked into the dugout and saw everyone running out. It must have been something good.''.

GALLERY: Game 3, Cardinals and Red Sox

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