Cards reliever trashed dugout in Game 4

HOUSTON -- The Houston Astros apologized to the Cardinals on Monday, saying they erred a day earlier by showing a replay of St. Louis reliever Julian Tavarez's tantrum on the stadium scoreboard.

The excitable Tavarez tried to trash the dugout shortly after giving up a tiebreaking home run to Carlos Beltran in the seventh inning of Houston's 6-5 win that evened the NL Championship Series at 2. As it turned out, the pitcher broke three bones in his left hand during his tirade.

"We made a mistake in judgment by playing that," Astros spokesman Jay Lucas said. "We meant no disrespect to the Cardinals' organization.

"We apologize for it," he said. "We want to show both teams in a positive light. It won't happen again."

Lucas said the entertainment operators at Minute Maid Park who showed the replay did not lose their jobs and were not disciplined. Game 5 was Monday night at Houston.

Cardinals manager Tony La Russa was upset that Tavarez's antics were displayed on the board. LaRussa said Monday that the right-handed Tavarez still will pitch in the series.

"I think ever since I've been around, since 1996, the Astros are as classy an organization as anything I've met in the National League," he said Sunday. "But even Sinatra clears his throat, and I think that was below their standards and that was disappointing."

Tavarez, who has been suspended several times in the past, angered the Astros right after Beltran homered when he threw a pitch over Jeff Bagwell's head. They shouted at each other, and Tavarez threw up his arms.

First baseman Albert Pujols and other Cardinals came to the mound at that point, trying to settle down Tavarez. Plate umpire Mike Winters issued warnings to both teams, and there was no more trouble.

When the inning ended, Tavarez bent over as he approached the bench and appeared to scream at himself. He slammed his glove on the dugout roof, tried to yank the bullpen phone off its mounting and threw down a water cooler.

"I just lost my cool," Tavarez said, completely calm after the game. "I was not throwing at him. It was not intentional."

Said Bagwell: "These are heated games. That was my initial reaction."

Tavarez was suspended for 10 games for applying a foreign substance to a ball in late August, and the penalty was later cut to eight games.

In 2003, he drew a three-game suspension for fighting during a brawl while with Pittsburgh. In spring training with the Cubs in 2001, he was suspended for three games after making a flying kick at San Francisco's Russ Davis.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.