LOS ANGELES -- It was a play that happened in the first inning, but it wound up looming large at the end of the Dodgers' 3-1 win over the Cubs in Game 3 of the National League Division Series on Saturday.
With one out in the bottom of the first, Russell Martin doubled and Manny Ramirez followed with a grounder toward the hole at short. A diving attempt by shortstop Ryan Theriot came up, well, short, and Martin decided to try to advance to third.
Left fielder Alfonso Soriano charged the ball, barehanded it and fired an on-target throw to third. The ball beat Martin, but third-base umpire Jim Reynolds called Martin safe when Aramis Ramirez's tag appeared to catch Martin on the shoulder just after his hand touched the bag.
"Russell made a mistake," Dodgers manager Joe Torre said. "But fortunately, we got the call. I didn't see a replay, but I'm just glad he was safe, obviously."
Cubs manager Lou Piniella briefly argued the call to no avail.
"The play at third base, I don't know if the guy was out or safe, but it was really, really close," Piniella said.
Why was the play such a big deal? Well after Cubs starter Rich Harden fanned Andre Ethier for the second out of the inning, James Loney doubled to right to score Martin and Ramirez to give the Dodgers a 2-0 edge.
Had Martin been out on the play, Ethier's strikeout would have ended the frame with the game still being scoreless.
"Well, it went against us," Piniella said of the play. "But give them credit, they got a big two-out hit. We had opportunities. We just didn't take advantage of them."
Steve Gilbert is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.