Two bench-clearing brawls, six ejections as Sox win

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) -- Beanballs and brushbacks have become common when the Boston Red Sox and Tampa Bay Devil Rays meet.

Jay Payton hit a grand slam and Manny Ramirez homered one pitch after nearly being plunked as the Red Sox avoided a three-game sweep with an ejection-filled 11-3 victory over the Devil Rays on Sunday.

There were six ejections in the seventh inning following a sequence of inside pitches and two bench-clearing scuffles. Tampa Bay manager Lou Piniella and Devil Rays pitchers Lance Carter and Dewon Brazelton were all thrown out, along with Boston manager Terry Francona, starting pitcher Bronson Arroyo and outfielder Trot Nixon.

Carter threw a high-and-tight pitch to Ramirez with one out in the seventh, one inning after Arroyo hit Aubrey Huff with a pitch. Huff, who is 7-for-10 against Arroyo, thought he was thrown at intentionally.

But Huff doesn't see a feud between the teams.

"That's Yankees-Red Sox," Huff said. "We're the last team on their minds."

Francona left the dugout to talk with plate umpire Ted Barrett after Carter's pitch, but after no action was taken by the umpires, Ramirez put Boston up 5-2 with a solo homer on the next pitch.

Carter threw a 1-2 pitch near the head of the next batter, David Ortiz. The Boston designated hitter took a couple steps toward the mound and was restrained by Tampa Bay catcher Toby Hall and


"They might have gotten away, they might have not," Piniella said of Carter's inside pitches. "If they're going to hit our hitters, we certainly can do the same. We're not going to be intimidated whether you're a world championship ballclub or not. I know that we're going to protect our hitters, I can tell you that."

Carter left without talking to reporters.

"That ball almost hit me in the head," Ortiz said. "That's dangerous. I think they need to stop the hitting thing."

Both dugouts and bullpens emptied, with pushing and shoving taking place around the mound. Piniella, Carter, Nixon and Brazelton were all thrown out following that incident, which delayed the game nine minutes.

"Nixon and Brazelton were escalating the situation," umpire crew chief Rick Reed said. "In fact, Nixon was asked a couple times to leave the area. He continued to make aggressive comments. Brazelton was out of control also."

Nixon said someone poked him in the eye, which made him "furious." He wouldn't identify which player it was.

"If I wanted to be an idiot, it could have been worse," Nixon said.

Piniella said the umpires did a good job, except for not ejecting Ortiz for leaving the batter's box and walking toward the mound. He discussed the matter with Reed.

"He said the umpire [Barrett] had him in a bear hug," Piniella said. "I said, 'What does that have to do with it?'

"Kick the umpire and him [Ortiz] out both," Piniella said with a smile.

Reed said Ortiz was allowed to remain in the game because he did not get involved in the scuffle near the mound.

In the bottom of the inning, Arroyo hit Chris Singleton in the leg with his second pitch, prompting the teams to meet again near the mound and causing a four-minute delay. Arroyo and Francona were thrown out.

"Nobody told me to do anything," Arroyo said. "I threw a pitch and it hit him. The tension was growing a little bit any time a guy like David [almost] gets hit."

The teams have a history of games involving beanballs, including a fight between Pedro Martinez and Gerald Williams on Aug. 29, 2000. Tampa Bay starter Scott Kazmir and Piniella were ejected from a game last September after Kazmir hit Ramirez and Kevin Millar in

a span of four pitches in the fourth inning.

In this series, there were four batters hit by pitches during the first two games.

"Hopefully it's over," Tampa Bay's Carl Crawford said. "Just leave it on the field. There was something that was needed to be said, and it got said on the field."

Arroyo (2-0) allowed three runs and seven hits in six-plus innings. He hasn't lost in 13 starts -- including seven wins -- dating to last season.

Ramirez also had a sacrifice fly during a two-run first. He has six homers and 16 RBI over his last past nine games.

Payton, who replaced Nixon, hit his second career grand slam during a six-run eighth. Ortiz, who struck out against Seth McClung

after the first seventh-inning scuffle, hit a solo shot later in the eighth that struck an overhanging catwalk.

Ortiz hit a pair of solo homers in Boston's 6-5 loss Saturday.

Nick Green homered for Tampa Bay, which was looking for its first series sweep of three or more games against the Red Sox. Starter Hideo Nomo (2-2) gave up four runs and seven hits over six innings.

Johnny Damon's run-scoring double put Boston up 3-0 in the second. He added a run-scoring single in the eighth.

Green's solo homer pulled the Devil Rays within 3-2 in the fifth.Game notes
The three-game series drew 93,986, including 30,236 on Sunday. The Devil Rays' total attendance in the previous 11 home games before the Red Sox series was 127,060. ... Boston third baseman Bill Mueller (flu-like symptoms) was out of the lineup for the fourth straight game. He did take grounders and batting practice before the game. ... Tampa Bay backup catcher Charles Johnson left in the third inning because of a strained right shoulder. He was scheduled to undergo an MRI Sunday night and be examined by team doctors on Monday.