Tavarez, Gathright ejected in BoSox-Rays brawl

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Boston reliever Julian Tavarez punched Tampa Bay's Joey Gathright on Monday, and both were ejected after a brawl that began with a close play at home plate.

Gathright was sliding into home in the eighth inning when he was tagged out by the often-hot tempered Tavarez, who stepped on the outfielder's right arm. Gathright, still on the ground, then used his left forearm to push Tavarez's left knee.

Before Gathright got up, Tavarez struck a blow in the area of Gathright's left jaw, and players flocked in from the benches and bullpens. No other players appeared to throw punches, and order was restored after a few minutes.

Gathright began the play at second base, and Julio Lugo singled to left field, scoring Greg Norton. Lugo was caught in a rundown between first and second and, when Gathright broke from third base to home, second baseman Zach Borowiak threw to Tavarez.

Boston went on to win the exhibition game 12-11 with two runs in the ninth.

The Red Sox and Devil Rays have been involved in several brawls and instances in which batters were hit by pitches in recent years. Tavarez is in his first season with Boston.