Acta diffuses notion of bad blood with outfielder Dukes

PITTSBURGH -- A day after going face-to-face in a somewhat heated argument in the dugout, Washington Nationals manager Manny Acta said there was no rift between him and young outfielder Elijah Dukes.

"That's yesterday's news and was for yesterday's paper," Acta said Wednesday before the second game of a series against the Pirates. "That's over with. What happens in Pittsburgh should stay in Pittsburgh. We talked it out after the game. We're cool. We're fine."

Trailing 6-5 heading into the ninth after blowing a 5-4 lead the inning before, Dukes doubled with two outs off Pirates closer Matt Capps and Lastings Milledge homered on the following pitch to give the Nationals an inspired 7-6 victory after losing eight of their previous nine.

Milledge and Dukes celebrated near home plate, and soon after television cameras caught Acta in Dukes' face. Players stepped in, and later Acta was seen yelling at Dukes again. Dukes reportedly refused to slap Acta's hand in the traditional postgame victory handshake.

"You know, Ronnie Belliard did a great job yesterday giving us two home runs and that the single that drove in the go-ahead run," Acta said. "It's kind of sad that that's been lost in that great game yesterday."

Dukes, who refused to talk about the situation, started in right field.