BOSTON -- In the second inning, Boston Red Sox starter Ryan Dempster drilled New York Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez with 3-0, 92 mph fastball. In the sixth, Rodriguez drilled Dempster for a long solo homer that sparked the Yankees' comeback victory.
"It was the ultimate payback," Rodriguez said after the team's 9-6 win.
When Dempster plunked Rodriguez in the elbow with a fastball, it resulted in both benches being issued warnings, the ejection of Yankees manager Joe Girardi and the bullpens of both teams emptying onto the field. No punches were thrown.
With the Fenway crowd chanting "You're a cheater" to start the second inning, Dempster's first pitch to Rodriguez, an 89 mph fastball, sailed behind him, nearly catching him on the left leg.
After two more inside fastballs, Dempster's 3-0 pitch nailed Rodriguez squarely on the left elbow pad. Rodriguez interpreted it as Dempster's way of saying he did not like how Rodriguez has handled the 211-game suspension for performance-enhancing drug violations that Rodriguez is appealing.
"Whether you like me or hate, that was wrong," said Rodriguez, who finished the night with three hits and raised his average to .319 in 47 at-bats. "That was unprofessional and silly. It was kind of a silly way to get someone hurt on your team as well."
Dempster said, "I was just trying to pitch inside."
After the hit-by-pitch, home plate umpire Brian O'Nora issued the warnings as an enraged Girardi charged out of the Yankees' dugout, gesticulating wildly. Girardi was kicked out after one of his gestures, which looked like a left hook, nearly hit O'Nora.
After the more than-four-hour game, Girardi was still fuming, pointing out that Dempster had hit only five batters in 145 1/3 innings. He said that he will be "disappointed" if Dempster isn't suspended a long enough period by MLB that he misses a start. And that he wishes that Dempster had to bat for himself.
"You can't start throwing at people," Girardi said. "Lives -- people have had concussions. Lives are changed by getting hit by pitches. Whether I agree with everything that's going on, you do not throw at people and you don't take the law into your own hands. You don't do that. We're going to skip the judicial system? It's 'My Cousin Vinny.'"
Rodriguez was asked if he agreed that Dempster should be suspended.
"I'm the wrong guy to be asking about suspensions," Rodriguez said with a chuckle. "Holy mackerel."
After he was hit, Rodriguez stared out at Dempster before slowly walking to first base, trailed by Yankees trainer Steve Donohue. Groups of players from each team's bullpen spilled onto the field, as well as a few players from the Yankees' dugout, led by a clearly agitated Brett Gardner. But no punches were thrown and order was quickly restored.
"Joe's reaction was amazing," Rodriguez said. "Every single one of my teammates came up to me and said, 'Hit a bomb and walk it off.'"
In the sixth, Rodriguez belted the second pitch he saw from Dempster in the inning into the center-field seats to cut the Boston lead to 6-4. The Yankees would go on to take the lead and would not relinquish it.
As he reached home plate, Rodriguez stopped, clapped his hands together and theatrically pointed to the sky -- in a way similar to how Boston slugger David Ortiz celebrates homers -- as the crowd booed and chanted, "Throw it back! Throw it back!'' Rodriguez and his teammates were fired up when he returned to the dugout.
"I think Alex did the best retaliation by going deep," said Yankees starter CC Sabathia, who did not hit any Boston players in his 5 1/3 innings. "There is not much more to say about that. A guy drills you and then you go deep off of him. We get the win. He gives up seven. What can you say?"
Rodriguez's second home run of the season was also the 649th of his career, leaving him 11 home runs shy of earning a $6 million bonus from the Yankees for tying Willie Mays for fourth place on baseball's all-time list.
Rodriguez now has been hit by a Red Sox pitcher 17 times since he became a Yankee, five more than any other player in baseball.
Shortly after the home run, Dempster -- who took the loss, going 5 1/3 innings and giving up seven runs -- was taken out and received a standing ovation.
"What is wrong with people?" Girardi said. "You cheer when someone gets hit? I'm going to say it again: What if that were your son? What if your son got hit? Breaks an arm, gets hit in the head, has a concussion. I would be embarrassed."
For Girardi, it was the 23rd ejection of his career, and his second this year against the Red Sox. He was run by Vic Carapazza on May 31 for arguing a call at second base. He was not only upset at Dempster, whom he yelled at on the field, but also at O'Nora for not taking control of the situation after the first pitch and for not ejecting Dempster.
"Come on," Girardi said. "I'll be really disappointed if he's not suspended where he misses a start. They have a lot of days off and you could finagle something, like if he took the suspension tomorrow if he got suspended he wouldn't miss a start. It has to cost him something."
Girardi said he rarely moves to the top step, but he did after Dempster's first pitch landed behind Rodriguez.
"You'd have to be really unaware or not paying attention to not know that he threw at him on purpose," Girardi said.
Girardi pointed to all the chatter that emanated from the Boston clubhouse. Prior to the series, Red Sox starter John Lackey told The Boston Globe that he wasn't too happy he had to face Rodriguez, given the circumstances of his suspension.
"I've got a problem with it. You bet I do," Lackey told the newspaper. "How is he still playing? He obviously did something and he's playing. I'm not sure that's right. ... It's pretty evident he's been doing stuff for a lot of years I've been facing him."
Red Sox teammate Jonny Gomes expressed a similar sentiment.
"I don't think so, to tell you the truth," Gomes said when asked if it was right that Rodriguez was still out there, according to MassLive.com. "I can imagine being the pitcher, just knowing this guy is on or has done steroids. That's not an equal battle right there. I don't know how that would really work out. Good thing I don't pitch. It doesn't make much sense that he's still playing."