SAN FRANCISCO -- Call it the Fight Redux.
The Giants' Michael Tucker against the Dodgers' Eric Gagne in a reprise of Wednesday night's card at SBC Park.
In that one Tucker opened the fifth inning with a slow grounder to first. By the time Jeff Weaver got off the mound to take the toss at the bag from first baseman Robin Ventura, Tucker was right on top of the pitcher. There was a body block, some angry words and pointed fingers. Before anyone knew it, both teams had rushed to the field.
On Thursday in the bottom of the eighth, Tucker took exception to a Gagne 2-2 pitch that was high and tight to the left-handed batter. Tucker started toward the mound. Gagne threw down his glove and moved menacingly toward Tucker. Before anyone knew it, both teams flooded the field and first base umpire Tim Welke had ejected Gagne and Tucker from the game.
"He knows that the pitch wasn't close," said Gagne after the Giants had defeated the Dodgers, 9-3, to sweep the four-game series and extend their lead in the National League West to 2 1/2 games. "He knows. He just got carried away because yesterday he tried to hurt one of our players. I guess he thought it was a payback. But if he knows the game he knows we don't play to hurt anyone. His emotions just took over."
The Giants came into the series trailing by half a game and now their 2 1/2-game lead is their widest margin of the season. They have picked up 10 1/2 games on the Dodgers since trailing by eight games on May 17.
Eric Gagne / P
Weight: 235 lbs
Bats: R / Throws: R
Gagne, who has recorded 81 saves in a row, was successfully negated in the series because the Dodgers never had a lead to protect in the late innings. After pitching in the five of six games that the Dodgers won on their last homestand over the Orioles and Yankees, Gagne hadn't been used since Sunday.
"I wasn't surprised I was out there," said Gagne, who came in trailing by six runs. "I needed the work. A little tuneup."
The Dodgers were clearly frustrated. Wednesday's festivities actually began when Weaver, running out a sacrifice bunt in the top of the fifth, jammed his elbow in the chest of rookie Giants first baseman Damon Minor, catcher A.J. Pierzynski said. Tucker then returned the favor in the bottom of the inning by nearly bowling Weaver over.
"He was just standing up for a teammate," Pierzynski said about Tucker. "That's the way we play around here."
Michael Tucker / RF
Weight: 195 lbs
Bats: L / Throws: R
Tucker was reluctant to talk on Wednesday and declined to comment at all on Thursday telling reporters, "You can write what you want."
Manager Felipe Alou, a veteran of the Dodgers-Giants rivalry, said it was a shame the game had to deteriorate the way it did. Backup catcher David Ross, who had just come into the game as a defensive replacement, hustled Tucker out of the way. And when Gagne was told he had been ousted, Adrian Beltre came flying across the diamond from third base and pushed Gagne away from the umpires before he could do any further damage.
Gagne, a French-Canadian, had been told he was ejected for throwing his glove to the ground, hockey style.
"I regret the fact there were a couple near blows there," Alou said. "My feeling has always been, ever since I was a player and there were fights, real fights with the Dodgers, that there should never be a fight or a brawl without a reason. And I don't want to go any further."
Jim Tracy, who is in his fourth year as Dodgers manager, thought that Tucker's reaction to Gagne's pitch was purely theatrical.
"I thought that was completely overdone by Michael Tucker," Tracy said. "I base that on the fact that if you look at the replay, the ball's not even close to him. And then to take a step towards him and make a gesture like you're going to the mound, what's Eric Gagne supposed to do?"
The teams will be back at it for three games at Dodger Stadium beginning next Tuesday. And Gagne said he isn't concerned that the sour feelings will spill over.
"For a pitch in? They better not," he said.
This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.