LOS ANGELES -- Both benches and bullpens cleared Sunday night in Game 3 of the NL championship series, moments after Los Angeles Dodgers starter Hiroki Kuroda threw a pitch over Shane Victorino's head.
"I don't think anybody is really trying to hit anybody," Phillies first baseman Ryan Howard said. "If Brett was trying to hit him, he would've hit him."
Victorino shouted at Kuroda while pointing at his own head and upper body as if to say: "It's OK to throw at my body, but not my head." Los Angeles won 7-2, cutting its deficit to 2-1 in the best-of-seven series.
"The ball just got a little bit away from Kuroda, but the last thing we're trying to do is hit somebody in the head," Dodgers catcher Russell Martin said. "We were just trying to get him uncomfortable up there a little bit. Those guys have been swinging the bats pretty well. It's just baseball. They've been throwing up and tight on us, and it got us a little uncomfortable. So it was just a good time to do that."
After Victorino grounded out to first base to end the inning, he and Kuroda exchanged words. Players spilled onto the field, but no punches were thrown and nobody was ejected.
"He's a fiery guy," said Martin, hit by pitches twice in the game and brushed back another time. "And with the intensity of the playoffs, that's what happens. I'm totally fine with it. We needed something. For the most part, we needed runs. We got them early and we got the momentum. But they're in our ballpark, and it's good to send a statement. We've come too far to let down now."
Dodgers third-base coach Larry Bowa and Phillies first-base coach Davey Lopes appeared to be two of the angriest participants in the near-scuffle, yelling at each other before the teams cleared the field. Ramirez also came in from left field to bark at the Phillies and had to be restrained by teammates, manager Joe Torre and an umpire.
"We're a team and we need to protect each other," Ramirez said. "I wasn't trying to get anybody. I was there just in case anything happened. I just wanted to go out there and protect my teammates. I don't fight nobody. I'm a lover."
Myers threw behind Ramirez in the first inning of Game 2 on Friday, and Los Angeles' Russell Martin was brushed back as well. Soft-tossing Phillies starter Jamie Moyer hit Martin with a pitch in the first inning of Game 3, and reliever Clay Condrey knocked down the Los Angeles catcher in the second.
Victorino and Martin yelled at each other after Kuroda's high-and-tight pitch, with Victorino clearly upset about the pitch being over his head rather than just inside.
The Phillies won the first two games in the best-of-seven series, but the Dodgers held a 6-1 lead in Game 3 when the benches cleared.
"What happened in Philly didn't look good. We knew sooner or later something was going to happen," Phillies reliever J.C. Romero said. "It's unfortunate. It happened, but we're going to put this behind us. Hopefully tomorrow we can play a clean game."
The Phillies and Dodgers don't have a recent history of animosity, unlike Boston and Tampa Bay, the ALCS participants. The Red Sox and Rays have played two peaceful games in their series after a nasty brawl in June.
"It's baseball," Dodgers second baseman Blake DeWitt said. "Emotions are high. There are two competitive teams going at it. It's a series where two teams are fighting to get into a World Series. Nobody's letting down and nobody's going to give in. But it's over and done with. Both these teams are concentrating on winning ballgames."