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Missed call at first base negated tying run

PITTSBURGH -- Umpire Tim Welke admitted Sunday he probably
missed a call at first base that cost the Colorado Rockies the
tying run in a loss to the Pittsburgh Pirates the day before.

Welke, the crew chief, called Colorado's Jay Payton out at first
base to complete a game-ending double play in Pittsburgh's 1-0
victory Saturday. There were runners at first and third and one out
when Payton came to the plate.

Replays appeared to show Payton beat the throw from second
baseman Abraham Nunez. Welke said Payton probably was safe.

"Now I looked at the replays, and I know the replays aren't
very good, but I don't get a second chance at it. It was a tough
night sleeping last night," said Welke, a major league umpire for
21 years.

"Sure, I would have liked another whack at it. It was a close
play, and I understand the situation. But every day you turn a new
page. You have to."

The Rockies were livid Saturday, arguing that Payton was clearly
safe. Colorado general manager Dan O'Dowd said Sunday he filed a
complaint with Major League Baseball.

"You hear people say that umpires don't care -- that was living
proof," Rockies star Larry Walker said. "(Country singer) Ronnie
Milsap could have made that call, and he's blind."

Welke, who was behind the plate Sunday, objected to Walker's
comments.

"I totally disagree with that," Welke said. "Games are full
of close plays and close pitches. As umpires, we get one shot at
it, and you have to call it the way you see it. At the time, I
thought absolutely it was the correct call. There was no doubt in
my mind."

After the game, Colorado first-base coach Dave Collins said he
could have made the correct call "from my hotel room."

"I don't know what happens when umpires make bad calls,"
Rockies manager Clint Hurdle said, "but I know what happens to us:
We get fired and sent to Triple-A."

Welke said he understood the Rockies' frustration. It was their
third straight one-run loss, including a 12-11 defeat Friday in
which the Pirates scored six runs in the ninth inning.

"Whatever happens out there, you want people to stay
professional," Welke said. "I'm not going to answer a comment
that maybe was made in the heat of the moment. I know sports are
like that. I respect their will to win. I respect their effort.

"As an umpire -- and I can speak for my profession -- our goal is
to have nothing to do with who wins or loses the game. Our goal is
to judge the game fairly, to the best of our ability. As an umpire
who's done this for a long time, I take a lot of pride in that."

None of that mattered to the Rockies.

"It was obviously predetermined that if we hit a groundball, it
was going to be a double play, and everybody could watch the
(postgame) fireworks show," pitcher Jason Jennings said Saturday.
"It was probably the worst call I've seen all year."

The Rockies were still angry when they arrived Sunday at PNC
Park.

"It wasn't even a bang-bang play," Jennings said. "It was
obvious. I don't know how he could've missed the call."