CINCINNATI: A late-game shoving match that saw both benches and bullpens clear served only to slow down the Pittsburgh Pirates’ 3-0 triumph over the Cincinnati Reds on Sunday (Monday in Manila).
It wasn’t the only testy encounter in Major League Baseball on Sunday, with a bench-clearing incident punctuating the Blue Jays’ 5-2 victory over the Kansas City Royals in Toronto.
In Cincinnati, Pirates right-hander Charlie Morton pitched seven shut-out innings and second baseman Neil Walker smacked a solo home run to pace the Pittsburgh.
The visitors were already up 3-0 when Pirates relief pitcher Tony Watson hit Reds second baseman Brandon Phillips with a pitch in the eighth inning.
The incident — after Reds hurler Pedro Villarreal plunked Pirates center fielder Andrew McCutchen in the top of the inning — saw players from both teams pour onto the field spoiling for a fight.
Cincinnati center fielder Marlon Byrd wrestled briefly with Pittsburgh pitcher Joe Blanton — who had hit Byrd with a pitch in Saturday’s game between the two teams.
Things had appeared to calm down when Cincinnati third baseman Todd Frazier and his Pirates counterpart Sean Rodriguez exchanged heated words and players from both teams again faced off.
No punches were thrown, but Reds manager Bryan Price acknowledged that a string of hit batsmen had contributed to tension between the National League Central division rivals.
“There is always something in the air,” Price said. “The constant is we both pitch inside. It speaks to the success of our pitching staffs. When you pitch inside, guys are going to get hit. There is a lot of testosterone. It’s just baseball.”
Rodriguez, Byrd, and Reds first baseman Joey Votto were ejected from the contest.
In the ninth inning, Pirates closing pitcher Mark Melancon was ejected after hitting the Reds’ Tucker Barnhart.
Pirates manager Clint Hurdle, who was also tossed, said Melancon wouldn’t have intentionally walked Barnhart in that situation.
“For the life of me, I know Mark would not put the tying run to the plate in a save situation,” Hurdle said.
“They (umpires) felt they had to do what they had to do following the altercation.”
In Toronto, Blue Jays first baseman Chris Colabello belted a two-run homer in the fourth inning and right-hander R.A. Dickey pitched seven shut-out innings for the hosts in a game that also saw pushing and shoving erupt in the eighth.
Toronto pitcher Aaron Sanchez was ejected after hitting shortstop Alcides Escobar with a pitch, and Toronto manager John Gibbons was also ejected.
The teams had been warned in the first inning after Royals pitcher Edinson Volquez hit Josh Donaldson.
Donaldson was convinced Volquez threw at him intentionally, and thought that set the stage for further fireworks in the game.
“He’s a little baby,” Volquez responded. “We don’t play that game.”