ATLANTA -- Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez was not happy with Jerry Meals when he was ejected during the ninth inning of Tuesday night's 19-inning win over the Pirates. But he sympathized with what the veteran umpire has experienced since ending the marathon affair with a controversial call at the plate.
When Meals ruled that Julio Lugo avoided catcher Michael McKenry's swipe tag, the Braves celebrated a walk-off victory, and the Pirates expressed their frustration toward Meals, who was not happy with himself after he returned to the dressing room and watched video of the play.
Meals said during the wee hours of Wednesday morning that replays gave him reason to believe he missed the call. He issued a more definitive statement to a group of reporters Wednesday afternoon.
"On one particular replay, I was able to see that Lugo's pant leg moved ever so slightly when the swipe tag was attempted by McKenry," Meals said. "That's telling me that I was incorrect in my decision and that he should have been ruled out and not safe."
Gonzalez was among those who understood the mental and physical fatigue Meals was feeling near the end of the six-hour, 39-minute game.
"If you would have asked me what my social security number was last night, I couldn't have told you, and I didn't call every single pitch," Gonzalez said. "You're just mush."
Gonzalez and Pirates manager Clint Hurdle both appeared to share a laugh with Meals as they exchanged lineup cards before Wednesday's game. It seemed to lighten the spirit of the veteran umpire, who had spent the day dealing with the consequences of the call.
"It's a shame because Jerry Meals is a [heck] of an umpire," Gonzalez said. "In this business, and this is the business we choose whether you're an umpire coach or baseball player, you've got to be put in situations where it's not a good feeling. I've been in situations where I've got to answer questions, or I've screwed up a double-switch and something happens on the field. The next thing you know, the media is talking for a week.
"Jerry Meals is going to be a Major League umpire for a long time. What's the rule of thumb, it will go away in 10 days or something like that?"
Braves brighten spirits at children's hospital
ATLANTA -- It took until about 2:30 a.m. ET before most of the Braves' players had finally left Turner Field on Wednesday morning, following their marathon 4-3 win over the Pirates.
But that didn't stop them from taking care of some equally important business later that morning.
Eight Braves players, three coaches and both of the club's broadcasters made their way over to the Shepherd Center and Children's Healthcare of Atlanta Wednesday to participate in a Christmas in July celebration.
"I'm so proud of them. I think our group of guys are great," manager Fredi Gonzalez said. "And now, I even hold them in a higher esteem. Here they are 10 hours after playing, and they're out there doing something for the people at Shepherd. It's great. I'm really proud of them."
Those who participated -- which included Martin Prado, Freddie Freeman, Tim Hudson and Craig Kimbrel -- visited with patients in hospital rooms while delivering toys and other gifts.
"Any time you go and visit these kids and you see them, a lot of them battling for their life, if you weren't feeling lucky enough then, that certainly will open up your eyes," Brooks Conrad said. "You look at these kids, and you do anything you can to maybe put a smile on their face and brighten up their day a little bit."
The Braves also joined patients at the Shepherd Center in the rehab gyms, where they played catch and shot hoops. Prado participated in the event just hours after going 0-for-9 in the 4-3 win over the Pirates.
"Everybody in that hospital would love to run down that baseline one time or go 0-for-9," Gonzalez said. "I think they were excited about seeing the Atlanta Braves, and we were excited about being there. I think it put everything in perspective, really."
The patients got the gift of meeting the Braves, but the visitors got their own gift in return.
"[It shows] how important it is not to take anything for granted in your life and to be happy where you are," Conrad said.
Mark Bowman is a reporter for MLB.com. Chris Cox is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.