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Umpire changes homer call to foul ball

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Despite a series of missteps in the field, at
the plate and on the basepaths, the Washington Nationals were
clinging to a one-run lead against the Atlanta Braves in the
seventh inning when Brian Jordan hit a shot to left field.

Carried by the wind, the ball drifted toward the corner.
Nationals outfielder Marlon Byrd, in foul territory, leaped for the
ball, which dropped over the wall, just beyond his glove. A home
run, tying the game at 2, or a simple foul?

Third-base umpire Jerry Layne thought it was a homer, prompting
a lot of jumping and arm-waving by Nationals relievers in the
nearby home bullpen, and drawing Washington manager Frank Robinson
out of the dugout. Crew chief Ed Montague, who was umpiring at
second base, thought it was foul and changed the call. That drew an
argument from Braves manager Bobby Cox, to no avail.

Jordan returned to the plate, grounded out on the next pitch,
and after each team later tacked on a run, the Nationals had a 3-2
victory over the Braves on Monday.

"Nobody seemed like they saw it, and it's a shame. We compete
so hard and that changes the whole ballgame," Jordan said. "It's
a 2-2 ballgame, and they took it away from us."

Washington, which has won two straight after a five-game losing
streak dropped it below .500, seemingly tried its best to hand over
the game. But the Nationals overcame one error and two other
fumbles in the field, two runners caught stealing, another runner
thrown out at home, and their seventh consecutive game scoring
three runs or fewer.

Byrd had two RBI doubles, Jose Guillen drove in the other run,
and Tomo Ohka (4-3) allowed one unearned run and two hits over
seven innings. That all helped, as did the reversal on Jordan's
shot.

"Jerry went out on the ball. He kind of lost it when it got
up," Montague said. "Coming over from second base, I don't have
it hitting the pole. I still don't have it hitting the pole. The
ball came straight down, and I've got it on the other side of the
pole."

TV replays appeared to show the ball hit the black base of the
foul pole, and Nationals closer Chad Cordero said the ball had a
mark on it. So how did Robinson persuade the umpires to change the
call?

"I didn't argue. I reasoned with [Layne]," Robinson said. "I
just asked him if he would get another opinion."

And did the manager get a view of a replay?

"I didn't see anything. I'm not looking for it. I won't even
watch 'SportsCenter' tonight," he said with a smile.

Cox said members of the Braves who saw a replay in the clubhouse
came running into the dugout, yelling, "It's fair!"

The umpires "missed it. What are you going to do, shoot 'em?
You can't," Cox said. "They made a call, and it's too bad,
because they had it right. The guy that was supposed to call it had
it right."

Cox said he thought Montague might have been swayed by the
animated Nationals relievers.

"Bullpens are supposed to react that way on balls down the
line," he said. "We teach them to do that."

In the end, Jordan was sent back to the plate with a 1-2 count.
After getting thrown out by Ohka, Jordan threw his batting helmet
from near first base to the dugout, drawing jeers from the crowd of
39,705.

Ohka then got pinch-hitter Pete Orr to fly out, finishing up
another strong outing. The right-hander was 1-3 with a 5.85 ERA
after going just three innings in a loss to the Mets on April 23.
Since then, including a banishment to the bullpen, he's won three
straight decisions and lowered his ERA to 3.20.

Gary Majewski followed with a perfect eighth, and Chad Cordero
earned his 12th save despite giving up Andruw Jones' 12th homer, a
solo shot with two outs in the ninth.

Byrd hit his run-scoring doubles in the fourth and sixth off
starter Kyle Davies (2-1), who gave up two runs and seven hits over
5 1/3 innings. Brad Wilkerson hit his major league-leading 22nd
double and came home on Guillen's single in the seventh off Roman
Colon, making it 3-1.

Since coming over from the Phillies in a May 14 trade, Byrd is
hitting .371 with eight RBI. He credited hitting coach Tom McCraw
with helping smooth out his stroke and Robinson with providing a
mental boost.

Robinson, Byrd said, has "shown that he has confidence in me.
... Hopefully I can keep producing."

The Nationals needed him to on a day that the Braves took a 1-0
lead in the third thanks to Vinny Castilla's error on what looked
to be a double-play grounder. Second baseman Jamey Carroll also
failed to make a play on a grounder in that inning, though it was
ruled a single, and fumbled another ball later but managed to get
an out.

Nick Johnson and Wilkerson were caught stealing, and Guillen was
thrown out at the plate by Rafael Furcal with runners on second and
third and none out in the sixth.

Game notes
The Nationals took RHP John Patterson off the DL (back
spasms) so he can start Tuesday. They also activated INF Wil
Cordero, and sent OF Tyrell Godwin and INF Brendan Harris to
Triple-A New Orleans. ... Nationals C Brian Schneider was lifted
for a pinch-hitter after getting hit on his left hand by Marcus
Giles' backswing.