TORONTO -- Brett Lawrie called it an "unlucky bounce." Major League Baseball is likely to call it a suspension.
A furious Lawrie slammed his batting helmet to the ground after he took strike three and it struck plate umpire Bill Miller in the hip as the ninth inning turned nasty Tuesday night in Toronto's 4-3 loss to Tampa Bay.
"That was not my intention at all," Lawrie said. "I've never, ever done anything to go at an umpire before in my life, and I didn't mean to tonight. I apologize for that.
"It's just my passion for the game," he said. "I wanted to help my teammates out as best I could. That's the pride I have in this game. I leave my emotions out on the field."
Miller was later hit by a drink thrown by a fan while walking off the field after the game.
The trouble began with one out in the ninth and Lawrie trying to work a walk off Rays closer Fernando Rodney. On a 3-1 pitch, Lawrie started toward first base but was stopped short as Miller called strike two. Rodney stared in at Lawrie, and Miller helped settle the tension.
On a full-count pitch that he thought was ball four, Lawrie again headed toward first base. When Miller called strike three, Lawrie crouched in disbelief. Lawrie dropped his bat, gestured at Miller and shouted, and was ejected.
Lawrie then started toward Miller, wound up with his right arm and threw down his helmet. It bounced at the umpire's feet and ricocheted up into him.
"Upon seeing that he was ejected, he took several steps toward me and fired his helmet. It hit me in the right hip," Miller said.
"That's a bit extreme," he said.
Miller said he has already filed his report with MLB about the incident.
Lawrie said he felt Miller made "kind of a late call" on strike three.
Toronto manager John Farrell came out to restrain his 22-year-old third baseman, who's in his first full season in the majors. After Lawrie returned to the dugout, Farrell was ejected for arguing the call.
"The bat was taken completely out of Brett's hands, not only the 3-1 pitch but the 3-2 pitch as well," Farrell said. "Those are not strikes."
Miller was hit by the drink as he left the field. Police and stadium security were seen pointing into the crowd after that incident, and Miller shouted something at the fan before exiting.
After losing four of their first five games on this trip to New York, Baltimore and Toronto, the Rays ended it with three straight wins, persevering even as they placed two more players on the disabled list. Outfielder Desmond Jennings (left knee) and right-hander Jeff Niemann (fractured right leg) are the latest injury victims, leaving Tampa Bay with eight players on the DL.