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Pollock triples, scores on obstruction call

Special to MLB.com

PHOENIX -- The play that led to Astros star Justin Verlander's first regular season loss since arriving in Houston was a by-product of something the Arizona Diamondbacks discussed back in Spring Training.

A.J. Pollock's awareness of the situation in the sixth inning gave the Diamondbacks the go-ahead run in their 3-1 win against the Astros on Sunday, even if not everyone thought it was fair.

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PHOENIX -- The play that led to Astros star Justin Verlander's first regular season loss since arriving in Houston was a by-product of something the Arizona Diamondbacks discussed back in Spring Training.

A.J. Pollock's awareness of the situation in the sixth inning gave the Diamondbacks the go-ahead run in their 3-1 win against the Astros on Sunday, even if not everyone thought it was fair.

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With Arizona down 1-0, Pollock zoomed around the bases for a one-out triple off Verlander to drive in Daniel Descalso with the tying run. Then, when the throw to third base got away from Alex Bregman, he sprinted for home.

Pollock was originally called out by home plate umpire Roberto Ortiz, but was then awarded home plate on an obstruction call against Bregman at third. It gave the D-backs a 2-1 lead.

"We had meetings in Spring Training. You get obstruction, keep playing and if you get close to home and you are thrown out bang-bang, they're [umpires] probably going to give you the benefit of the doubt," Pollock said. "But if you get thrown out by 30 feet, they're not going to call obstruction there."

Pollock credited the D-backs coaches for being prepared.

"It literally won us the game," he said. "If it's affecting the play enough and you can get close then they're going to call you safe."

Video: HOU@ARI: Pollock, Koch on 3-1 D-backs' win vs. Astros

Astros manager AJ Hinch didn't see it that way.

"I saw it as a [terrible] rule and bad interpretation. You can call obstruction, you have a free pass as an umpire to call obstruction whenever there's contact. The contact initiated by the baserunner doesn't really do the defender any good," Hinch said. "It looked like, to me, everything is happening right on the base. And when the ball got past, they both jump up and Pollock sticks his arm out and hits Bregman and gets a free run. It's an interpretation, there's nothing you can really do about it."

Hinch maintained that Bregman had no other choice but to go after the ball thrown to him with Pollock bearing down on the base.

"It's a brutal way to lose a game," he said.

Obstruction occurs when a fielder who is not in possession of the ball or fielding it impedes a baserunner, as explained after the game by crew chief Brian Gorman.

"The runner got obstructed coming around third, and it is the type of obstruction where you let the play happen," Gorman told a pool reporter. "You don't call time automatically. You wait as the play develops, and if the obstruction had something to do with the play at the plate, which it happened, then the umpire has the discretion to score the run. If he gets thrown out by 20 feet and you didn't think the obstruction had anything to do with it, then he would be out. But the obstruction caused him to delay so much that it caused him to be out at the plate. So we scored the run."

Gorman added that umpires are taught that the fielder must "disappear." He acknowledged that was physically impossible, but a fielder "has to get out of a runner's way."

Video: HOU@ARI: Lovullo talks win number two against Astros

D-backs manager Torey Lovullo said the call was clear to him, and credited Pollock for his smarts.

"I saw the umpire at third base raise his hand, which is an indication of interference," Lovullo said. "The players have been shown video of this exact type of play in Spring Training. … You have to go finish the play. It was play that these guys have rehearsed and walked through."

Pollock, the reigning National League Player of the Month, had the game-winning hit in the ninth on Saturday night, a 4-3 Arizona victory, and also added an insurance run with an RBI single in the eighth inning Sunday.

Jose Romero is a contributor to MLB.com

Arizona Diamondbacks