Rule 7.06 (b)BOSTON -- There are many rules in baseball. Some of them are written, while others are merely accepted.
One of the unwritten rules is to keep running until someone tells you to stop.
And another one is to keep tagging base runners, because you just never know when one -- or more -- will be called out.
If the Athletics had followed those two rules, they possibly would be preparing for the American League Championship Series. But they didn't, and what could have been a Division Series-clinching shutout win at Fenway Park in nine innings became a 3-1 loss in 11 innings that kept the Red Sox alive and kicking in this wacky best-of-five series.
"That is probably the ugliest game I have ever been a part of," A's third baseman Eric Chavez said.
No one disagreed.
"I hope some of the guys learned a lesson on a couple of the plays," A's manager Ken Macha added. "It's unfortunate when it happens in a game like this."
A Division Series that already had a rare game-winning bunt single with the bases loaded and two outs really turned goofy in Game 3.
After making three errors in the second inning, leading to an unearned run for Boston, the close-to-clinching Athletics thought they should have scored three runs in the sixth inning, but only scored once.
Pull up a chair and read on.
Eric Byrnes led off the inning with a sharp single past Red Sox shortstop Nomar Garciaparra. Byrnes stole second and advanced to third on a grounder to second base, and Erubiel Durazo walked.
A routine inning ended right there.
Miguel Tejada chopped a grounder between third and home. Red Sox pitcher Derek Lowe fielded and frantically threw it to catcher Jason Varitek. Byrnes slid hard into Varitek's left leg and Lowe's throw sailed to the backstop. As a shaken Byrnes tried to gather his wits, Varitek retrieved the ball and tagged out Byrnes, who never touched home plate.
"I don't really know what happened after that," Byrnes said. "I thought the umpire made the call and the play was over. I didn't realize (Varitek) dropped the ball. To tell you the truth, I was thinking about my knee. It just went numb.
"I definitely didn't realize he dropped the ball. I don't care if my leg had fallen off, I would have went back and touched if I realized the ball wasn't there."
Third base coach Ron Washington said he and the A's dugout was yelling for Byrnes to go back and step on home plate.
Byrnes said he never heard them.
"There were 35,000 people screaming," he said. "I didn't hear anything. I just wish I would have run right through him."
But there was more.
After Chavez was walked intentionally to load the bases, Ramon Hernandez hit a grounder to Garciaparra's right. The ball caromed off his glove for an error and went into left field, allowing Durazo to score.
As Tejada reached third base, he collided with third baseman Bill Mueller and third base umpire Bill Welke raised his right arm. Tejada, apparently under the impression interference had been called, stopped running and was subsequently tagged out by Varitek, ending the inning.
After a lengthy discussion, the umpires ruled that although there was obstruction, it did not prevent Tejada from scoring. He didn't score, the umpires said, because he stopped running.
"As Tejada rounded third, he was obstructed by Mueller," Welke said. "The ball hadn't been picked up yet and there wasn't a play being made on Tejada so we don't call time out. I pointed to the obstruction.
"He is advancing on his own peril and if he had been thrown out, it would have been my job to decide if he would have been safe without the obstruction and could have called him safe. But he stopped running."
Supervisor of umpires Steve Palermo, attending the game, said he agreed with the interpretation.
Macha argued vehemently, but the call stood.
Tejada said practically nothing in a quiet visiting clubhouse.
"I don't want to say something wrong, so I have nothing to say," he said.
That was the second strange inning in a strange game. The second inning was a doozy.
Only one of the 18 pitches hard-luck starter Ted Lilly threw that inning was hit out of the reach of an A's infielder. But three ground balls that should have produced outs became errors and things became so wacky that Macha finally went to the mound to settle down the left side of the infield.
Kevin Millar led off the inning with a sharp grounder between Chavez and Tejada. Chavez, a Gold Glove winner the past two seasons and the favorite to win another one this season, made a nice stop, but his throw to first base was low and Scott Hatteberg couldn't make a clean pickup. Millar was credited with an infield single.
Lilly induced Red Sox catcher Varitek to hit a two-hop, seemingly sure-fire double-play grounder to Tejada. But the shortstop took his eye off the ball, which hit his glove and caromed so far away that neither he nor second baseman Mark Ellis could make a play,putting runners on first and second with none out, instead of having the bases empty and two out.
Lilly went back to work, wondering what the heck was going on here.
But he hadn't seen anything yet. Gabe Kapler hit grounder to Chavez, who stepped on third and tried to complete the DP at first. But this throw also was low and bounced away from Hatteberg, allowing Varitek to advance to third base.
Damian Jackson, the next batter, also hit a grounder to Chavez, who made the correct decision and caught Varitek in a rundown. Chavez threw the ball to catcher Hernandez, who ran Varitek back to third. Chavez kept asking for the ball back, but by the time he got it, Varitek was so close that they collided. Welke called interference on Chavez and sent Varitek home with the first run of the game.
Macha went to the mound for a brief session with everyone except the outfielders.
Lilly went back to work and retired the next two batters -- by keeping the ball off the ground.
"We played a poor second inning," Macha said. "It's amazing in that we gave them seven outs in that inning and they only scored one run."
So far in this Division Series, two of the three games have gone into extra innings. One game ended on a ball that traveled about 40 feet and the other ended on one that went a little more than 400 feet.
And there is at least one more game in this series remaining.
Jim Street is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to approval by Major League baseball or its clubs.