Bucs pound Devil Rays
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — The day began with the Pirates fighting among themselves. A few hours later, they fought on the field with the Tampa Bay Devil Rays. A few hours after that, they were fighting for their lives to end a six-game losing streak.
One night after being held to one hit, the Pirates came out swinging against the Tampa Bay Devils Rays — with and without the bats.
A bench-clearing brawl and a season-high offensive bonanza highlighted a 12-9 victory Saturday night at Tropicana Field that ended with the Pirates nearly blowing a nine-run lead.
Trailing 12-3, the Devil Rays scored six runs in the ninth inning and had the bases loaded with the winning run at the plate when Mike Williams got the final out for his 17th save.
“It’s nice to just get a win,” Pirates manager Lloyd McClendon said. “It has been a while.”
The victory was only the second for the Pirates in 11 games this month. Given the way they have played lately, perhaps some scrapping was in order. The Pirates had two doses of it yesterday.
The first dispute was in-house. Randall Simon and hitting coach Gerald Perry had to be separated during a minor altercation that arose in early batting practice. The second involved the Devil Rays and featured four player ejections.
Jason Kendall and Julian Tavarez were dismissed early for the Pirates. Marlon Anderson and former Pirates player Al Martin were tossed for the Devil Rays.
The scrum ensued in the fourth after Pirates pitcher Josh Fogg hit Anderson with a pitch. The beaning came one-half inning after Devil Rays reliever Jorge Sosa hit Kendall, marking the fourth time a Pirates batter had been beaned in the series.
The benches cleared when Anderson clipped Kendall in the chin with his left elbow, and Kendall wrestled Anderson to the ground. Tavarez and Martin were ejected by crew chief Tim Welke for throwing punches in the ensuing scrum.
“Kids having fun I guess,” McClendon said. “As a manager, you don’t want to see those things happen because you don’t want to see players injured on either side. But it’s over with now.”
Considering the circumstances, Devil Rays manager Lou Piniella wasn’t surprised to see Anderson get hit. He also wasn’t surprised that cooler heads didn’t prevail.
“Nobody likes to get hit,” he said. “But there’s nothing wrong with a little extracurricular stuff. We’ll leave it at that.”
When they weren’t throwing haymakers, the Pirates were flexing their muscles to the tune of a season-high 17 hits that included nine for extra bases. Aramis Ramirez hit a bases-loaded double, solo homer and drove in four runs. Jack Wilson doubled three times among four hits and drove in three runs. Jeff Reboulet had three hits and scored twice.
The Pirates had a 7-1 lead when the fight broke out, getting a three-run double from Ramirez in the third and four runs in the fourth. One of those runs scored when Kendall was hit with the bases load.
If Fogg was trying to make a statement, he picked the right time to do it. There were two outs and nobody on when he hit Anderson on the right leg.
“I guess he thought it was on purpose, but I wasn’t trying to hit him,” said Fogg, who had hit only one other batter this season.
Anderson took a few steps toward first, angrily flipped his bat toward the dugout and glared at Fogg as Kendall interceded. Words were exchanged while Anderson walked to first.
The fight began when Anderson shoved his left elbow under Kendall’s chin and flipped up the face mask. Kendall shoved Anderson in retaliation, and the brawl began.
“I got (expletive) slapped,” Kendall said. “I don’t play that (expletive).”
Kendall couldn’t believe Anderson was upset for getting hit.
“He might have a little bruiseâ¢ Big deal,” Kendall said.
A pile formed in front of the Devil Rays dugout, as both benches and bullpens converged on the scene. Bullpen coach Bruce Tanner became a casualty when someone cracked him in the back of the knee. He ended up limping off the field and didn’t return to his station until a few innings after play resumed.
“Fifteen-yard chop block,” Tanner said. “No flag.”
The pile splintered into several smaller ones, and it was in one of these scrums that Tavarez and Martin were caught throwing punches. Tavarez said he was holding a Devil Rays around the waist when someone grabbed him around his neck.
“He squeezed me and squeezed me and I wasn’t going to take it anymore,” Tavarez said. “I don’t deny (throwing a punch). I did it. There’s only so much you can take.”
Martin said he intervened when he saw Tavarez throw a punch at Rob Bell.
“I didn’t throw any punches,” Martin said. “I was keeping my head on a swivel. I was shocked I got kicked out.”
McClendon was surprised Kendall got ejected for defending himself.
“Jason was trying to be a peacemaker,” he said. “I lose my catcher because he’s trying to prevent a fight?”
Despite his intentions, Kendall expects to be punished for his role in the fight.
“It won’t be the first time I’ve been fined. Or suspended,” he said. “At least I’m not going to jail.”
Fogg was pulled away from the pile by Wilson.
“When you turn around and see 25 guys and coaches behind you, it’s nice to know they’re out there defending me,” Fogg said.
The Pirates kept swinging after the fight ended and provided Fogg with a 12-3 lead heading into the ninth. He was one out away from the first complete game by a Pirates pitcher in 158 games but couldn’t complete the task. Four hits sandwiched around a sacrifice fly ended Fogg’s night.
Scott Sauerbeck walked in a run, and gave up four more on a fielder’s choice, RBI single and two-run double. Williams relieved and walked pinch-hitter Rocco Baldelli on a full count to load the bases. The game ended when Carl Crawford hit a soft one-hopper to Wilson, who stepped on second for the final out.
“It was an excited game to say the least,” Fogg said.