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NLCS benches clear after close pitches

NLCS benches clear

LOS ANGELES -- It was only a matter of time.

After the Dodgers spent the last couple of days stewing about a pair of pitches Brett Myers threw in Game 2 -- one that knocked down Russell Martin and another that went behind the back of Manny Ramirez, with no retaliation -- tempers flared and benches cleared during the third inning of Game 3 of the National League Championship Series on Sunday.

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"Someone was bound to get hit on our team, the way the situation has been," Phillies center fielder Shane Victorino told FOX after the game. "We knocked down Martin twice and threw behind [Ramirez by] Brett. The situation called for it."

That's nearly what happened to Victorino in the third, when Dodgers starter Hiroki Kuroda chucked a 94-mph fastball over Victorino's head.

Victorino pointed to his head and his ribs and later said he complained to Martin that it's one thing to get hit, but it's not right for the Dodgers to throw at his head.

"Just a ball got away a little bit from Kuroda," Martin said. "It was high and tight, over his head. That's the last thing we're trying to do is hit somebody in the head. We're just trying to get them uncomfortable a little bit. Those guys have been swinging the bats pretty well, so it's just a situation where it's baseball, and they've been throwing up and tight on us. It was uncomfortable, so it was a good time to do that."

Added Kuroda, "I tried to pitch inside and it just slipped out of my hand."

Victorino then grounded to first base and, after Kuroda went to cover first base for the inning's final out, the two began jawing again. Both benches cleared, as Ramirez sprinted in from left field to join the scuffle while the Dodger Stadium speakers blared "Why Can't We Be Friends?"

Several Dodgers surrounded Ramirez and pushed him to the back of the crowd, before umpires were able to restore order. No one was ejected from the game, although both benches were issued a warning.

Ramirez said he was just protecting his team and he was not mad at any particular person on the Philadelphia side of things.

"We had to send a message," Ramirez said. "I was mad at myself, about what happened in Philly. We should have taken care of that over there. We want to play the game right. We don't want to hurt nobody."

"I don't fight nobody," Ramirez said. "I'm not a fighter, I'm a lover."

During the scrum, an odd sight occurred when Phillies first-base coach Davey Lopes -- a former Dodger who threw a ceremonial first pitch with fellow former Los Angeles teammates before the game -- jawed at Dodgers first-base coach Mariano Duncan and third-base coach Larry Bowa, both former Phillies.

Lopes said "looks are deceiving" as to whether he was upset.

"There's nothing to talk about," Lopes said. "Did anything happen? Nothing happened. I don't know why you're making a big deal out of nothing."

Before the on-field delay, Martin was hit with a curveball in the first inning by Phillies starter Jamie Moyer and had a Clay Condrey fastball buzz under his chin in the bottom of the second inning before grounding into a double play. An angry Martin slammed his helmet and pounded a cooler in the dugout.

Later, in the seventh inning, Phillies reliever Chad Durbin entered the game and proceeded to plunk Martin in the back with a first-pitch 76-mph curveball. Despite the previous warning, home-plate umpire Mike Everitt did not eject Durbin, and no one emerged from the Dodgers dugout to argue.

"That's the toughest thing for an umpire to read, [if it was] intentional," said crew chief Mike Reilly.

Reilly did not discuss why Durbin was not thrown out for hitting Martin, but Martin was not too concerned by it, saying typically a pitcher throws a fastball when he's trying to hit a batter.

Before the game, Dodgers Game 4 starter Derek Lowe said at his pregame press conference that the Dodgers talked a lot over the past two days about how "you have to stand up for youself" in such situations.

"We know how the game pretty much polices itself," Dodgers manager Joe Torre told FOX announcers during the game's television broadcast. "I just like the fact that we were on the balls of our feet tonight instead of our heels."

In short, the Phillies threw at the Dodgers in Game 2, and the Dodgers retaliated with some inside pitching in Game 3, a game in which Martin was also plunked twice by offspeed pitches.

Now, players on both sides say it's over.

"Honestly, I think it's over with," Martin said. "It's already over with in my head, but who knows what can happen?"

Michael Schwartz is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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