ST. LOUIS — The Royals and Cardinals should have known something was up when the first pitch was delayed an hour by rain.
The game moved quickly after that — right up until the top of the ninth, with the Royals leading and the rain back in force.
Umpire crew chief Joe West had a decision to make.
With the game the last one between the teams this season, a new rule added this year allowed West to call the game in a decision that would wipe out the top of the ninth and give the Cardinals a 2-1 win, based on the score from the previous completed inning.
But the Royals’ Jeff Francoeur and Eric Hosmer had combined for three RBIs in the ninth, so the decision was not an easy one.
West chose to wait out the rain. And wait. And wait some more. After 4½ miserable hours, the game resumed shortly after 4 a.m. (EDT) and the final out came at 4:14 a.m., finishing a 4-2 Royals win. Kansas City left for a series in Texas and the Cardinals went home to sleep a bit before a home series against San Francisco.
The umpiring crew? They had a matinee in Chicago, with the first pitch scheduled just 10 hours after the final out.
‘‘We worry about that game when we get to that one,’’ West told reporters. ‘‘We had to worry about this game.’’
The near-capacity crowd of 43,916 was down to a couple hundred hardy souls when the game ended.
‘‘I wasn’t sure we were going to get that game in, and to lose in that fashion after coming back in the ninth inning wouldn’t have been right,’’ said Royals manager Ned Yost, whose team snapped an eight-game skid with the victory. ‘‘I credit Joe West for hanging in there. I credit their grounds crew for getting the field playable.’’
Cardinals manager Mike Matheny and general manager John Mozeliak lobbied during the delay for an eight-inning St. Louis win. Matheny said the field was ‘‘bad.’’
‘‘And I thought our grounds crew did a tremendous job,’’ Matheny added. ‘‘This comes down to one of my guys getting hurt, it’s a big deal.’’
West said the Cardinals did not express their frustrations to him directly, made no statement and did not lodge a protest.
‘‘We talk about this [losing] streak, we've been in every game, we've been one hit away, and tonight we got the hit,’’ Yost said. ‘‘Those are games that can get you turned around. Hopefully, that will be the case.’’
Matheny paid a hefty price for giving closer Edward Mujica a day off after earning four saves in four days. Francoeur homered on the second pitch from Mitchell Boggs, a curious choice to get the ball in the ninth given seasonlong woes that left him with a double-digit ERA and included a stint in the minors.
Boggs (0-3) faced two batters, retired neither and was loudly booed. He was demoted May 3 after a 12.66 ERA and 12 walks in 10⅔ innings.