Upton Jr.'s near-homer changes momentum

Padres outfielder thinks he has homer, but ball is called foul

Upton Jr.'s near-homer changes momentum

BALTIMORE -- Melvin Upton Jr. was so certain he'd put the Padres in front with a go-ahead fifth-inning homer into the left-field seats that he put his head down and trotted around the bases -- only stopping momentarily when third-base umpire Chris Conroy ruled it foul.

In fact -- even after the Padres' 7-2 loss to the Orioles Wednesday night -- Upton is still certain of what he saw.

"I thought it was fair," Upton said. "Still think it's fair. I looked at it more than once on video, and I think it's fair. But apparently they didn't have enough video evidence to overturn it."

Conroy's ruling proved to be the turning point in Wednesday's contest. For a moment, it appeared as though San Diego had taken a 4-3 lead. Instead, Upton would strike out on the next pitch, and the Orioles broke the game open with three runs in the bottom of the frame.

Said Upton: "That changed the momentum."

The initial call was by no means a simple one -- given the fact that the flight path of the ball was higher than the left-field foul pole at Camden Yards.

That 70-foot-tall pole is the same one that was used by the Orioles when they played at Memorial Stadium. During their first nine seasons at Camden Yards, they played with a different pole that was 20 feet higher -- and probably would've helped avoid any controversy Tuesday night.

In any case, the ball traveled with a clear hook toward the left-field line, and it landed 20 rows back -- perhaps a seat or two into foul ground. Given the ball's trajectory, that landing point seemed to validate a fair ruling in Padres manager Andy Green's eyes.

"I recognize, to an extent, that they have a difficulty overturning that because there's nothing conclusive or concrete there," said Green. "But if a ball's landing a seat or two foul, 60 feet beyond the fence, it's crossing in fair territory."

Of course, the Padres didn't exactly do their part to rally afterward. They wouldn't put another man on base until the top of the ninth -- at which time the game was out of reach.

Starter Erik Johnson surrendered a leadoff home run in the bottom of the frame to Orioles third baseman Ryan Flaherty, and two more runs would score in the frame after Johnson loaded the bases with no one out. Baltimore tacked on an insurance run in the sixth after third baseman Yangervis Solarte and shortstop Alexei Ramirez let a routine popup fall between them.

"Two runs on the board, it's a much different baseball game," Green said of the home run that wasn't. "We're doing some things differently from a pitching-matchup perspective. We're handling the game a little bit differently. ... That changes the complexion of the game, to a degree.

"However, we had too many opportunities to make plays in the field that we didn't make. We beat ourselves, and that's probably the most frustrating thing."

AJ Cassavell covers the Padres for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @ajcassavell. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.