ATLANTA (AP) — Worried that more debris could fly out of the stands, St. Louis players scrambled off the field and launched a wild-card celebration in the safety of their clubhouse.
Players danced in a happy huddle. Champagne was sprayed. Then someone yelled "Infield fly!"
Those were words that only the Cardinals could celebrate on this night.
Matt Holliday homered and St. Louis rallied from an early deficit, taking advantage of three Atlanta throwing errors — the most crucial of them by the retiring Chipper Jones — to beat Kris Medlen and the Braves 6-3 in a winner-take-all wild-card playoff Friday.
The defending World Series champion Cardinals will open their best-of-five division series against the Washington Nationals on Sunday in St. Louis. The Braves were one and done in this shortest of postseasons.
The Braves outhit the Cardinals 12-6 but stranded 10 baserunners, including three in a crazy eighth inning that included a disputed infield fly call by left field umpire Sam Holbrook.
Holbrook's call sparked immediate outrage from the sellout crowd of 52,631. As if given a go-ahead countdown to litter, fans tossed cans, bottles, cups and other debris from all corners of Turner Field.
The game was halted for 19 minutes while workers cleared up the mess.
"It was crazy," said St. Louis right-hander Kyle Lohse, who gave up two runs on six hits in 5 2-3 innings. "You hate to see the fans lose control like that. Luckily nobody got hurt."
The loss ended the Braves' record streak of 23 straight wins in games started by Medlen.
St. Louis manager Mike Matheny said he decided during the delay if his team could close out the win, it should leave the field as quickly as possible. An on-field celebration before Braves fans would not be a good idea.