Under further review, Cardinals advance

World Series champs beat Braves; Orioles eliminate the runners-up

St. Louis Cardinals starting pitcher Kyle Lohse threw 5 2/3 innings in a wild-card victory over the Braves on Friday in Atlanta. He allowed two runs, both earned, walked one and struck out six to reach the NLDS. Enlarge photo

John Bazemore/Associated Press

St. Louis Cardinals starting pitcher Kyle Lohse threw 5 2/3 innings in a wild-card victory over the Braves on Friday in Atlanta. He allowed two runs, both earned, walked one and struck out six to reach the NLDS.

ATLANTA

David Freese and the St. Louis Cardinals rediscovered their postseason touch.

Chipper Jones and the Braves kept throwing the ball away.

And the Atlanta fans turned Turner Field into a trash heap.

They said anything could happen in baseball’s first wild-card playoff.

Boy, did it ever.

In a game protested by the Braves, Matt Holliday homered, and the defending World Series champion Cardinals took advantage of three Atlanta throwing errors – the most crucial of them by the retiring Jones – to take the winner-take-all playoff 6-3 on Friday.

St. Louis advanced to face Washington in the best-of-five division round, beginning Sunday at Busch Stadium.

The Braves are done for this season, the recipients of another heartbreaking loss in the playoffs.

The 40-year-old Jones is all done, period. He managed an infield hit in his final at-bat but threw away a double play ball in the fourth, which led to a three-run inning that wiped out Atlanta’s early 2-0 lead behind Kris Medlen.

But this one-and-done game will be remembered for the eighth, when a disputed call on a fly ball that dropped in short left field cost the Braves a chance at extending Jones’ career.

The Braves thought they had the bases loaded with one out after the ball dropped between two fielders, who appeared to get mixed up over who had called for it. But left-field umpire Sam Holbrook called Andrelton Simmons out under the infield fly rule – even though the ball landed at least 50 feet beyond the dirt.

When the fans realized what had happened, they littered the field with beer cups, popcorn holders and other trash, leading to a 19-minute delay.

That only delayed the inevitable. When play finally resumed, Brian McCann walked, but Michael Bourn struck out to end the threat. Dan Uggla grounded out with two aboard in the ninth to end it, leading to one more wave of trash throwing as the umps scurried off the field.

Orioles 5, Rangers 1

ARLINGTON, Texas – Joe Saunders pitched effectively into the sixth inning and earned the win, Adam Jones hit a tiebreaking sacrifice fly, and the Baltimore Orioles beat the two-time defending AL champion Texas Rangers in the wild-card playoff Friday night.

Nate McLouth scored in the first and drove in two runs after that for manager Buck Showalter’s surprising Orioles, who made their first postseason appearance in 15 years.

Baltimore advances to play the New York Yankees in the best-of-five division series. Game 1 is Sunday at Camden Yards in Baltimore.

Baltimore Orioles starting pitcher Joe Saunders threw five innings and gave up just one run on six hits. He walked one, struck out four, and the surprising Orioles knocked off the two-time defending AL champion Texas Rangers 5-1 on Friday night in Arlington, Texas. Enlarge photo

LM Otero/Associated Press

Baltimore Orioles starting pitcher Joe Saunders threw five innings and gave up just one run on six hits. He walked one, struck out four, and the surprising Orioles knocked off the two-time defending AL champion Texas Rangers 5-1 on Friday night in Arlington, Texas.