BOSTON -- A comfortable Red Sox lead evaporated in the ninth inning of a 14-inning win Saturday afternoon at Fenway Park, and their self-control and patience with home-plate umpire Tony Randazzo disappeared along with it.
Sox closer Jonathan Papelbon and catcher Jason Varitek were both tossed by Randazzo for arguing the strikezone in a game Boston came back to win, 9-8, after the A's tied it with four runs in the ninth -- all off Papelbon.
Papelbon, livid after he was ejected, ran over toward Randazzo and made contact with him, though he said he did not intend to do so. Papelbon, who had never been ejected before in his career, may face a fine and a suspension.
Boston began the inning, Papelbon's first, ahead, 7-3. Varitek was tossed after a Cliff Pennington double brought the A's within a run, and Papelbon faced the same fate one pitch later, after a game-tying single from pinch-hitter Conor Jackson.
"I don't believe so, if I did it wasn't on purpose," Papelbon said when asked if he made contact with Randazzo, who's been a Major League ump since 1999. "I don't think it was like anything, I may have brushed up against him but nothing like you know pushing him, so nothing to the point of where I was trying to get physical with him by any means."
Papelbon said he was trying to talk to his new catcher, Jarrod Saltalamacchia, and that he had his back to Randazzo at the time Randazzo took issue with his comments.
"I more or less was just trying to get Salty out here and say, 'Hey, you know, come talk to me, let's figure out this zone so I know how to go about this,'" Papelbon said. "Cause I had no idea what his zone was. I don't know, I guess he may have jumped to the conclusion that I was talking to him, and then I felt like he threw his arms up in the air, for no reason, towards me."
Saltalamacchia had a similar take.
"[Papelbon] was talking to me and then [Randazzo] kind of turned around and walked away, and then I don't know what happened after that," Saltalamacchia said. "He just kind of jumped out behind me and started talking to Pap. ... I don't think there was any reason for [the ejection]. Pap had already turned around and walked the other way. I think [the ump] should have just left it at that and moved on."
Varitek, 0-for-3 with two strikeouts, seemed upset after he struck out looking in the fifth inning, but said that was in the past by the time he became upset about pitches Papelbon wasn't getting called for strikes.
"It's hard to go into detail. I just felt like there were a few pitches with Pap that would change the course of that entire inning," said Varitek, who has five career ejections. "I could've handled things a little different."
Varitek said there was a two-strike pitch to Daric Barton, who walked as the second batter of the inning, that was particularly bothersome. Papelbon and manager Terry Francona had both gone over to Varitek to try to separate him from the umpire.
Francona got to the plate area quickly after Papelbon ran toward Randazzo.
"I wasn't out there for the conversations," Francona said. "I thought 'Tek was frustrated with his perception. I don't know about balls and strikes, but maybe just some inconsistencies on the zone. Pap said he was talking to Salty. That's what set him off. Again, I thought Tony got a little aggressive there. Once he charged him ... I can't get out there quick enough. I wish I could."
Crew chief Brian Gorman, who was at second base Saturday, said after the game that umpires "can't comment right now, because the report's not written. So we still got to write the report and any comment should be made after the report is filed with New York."
Papelbon said he was not concerned with the possibility of disciplinary action from the league.
"I know now that after the fact, maybe I should've handled it different," he said. "The league's going to come down on me the way they want to, whether they believe me or not. Like I said, I wasn't trying to maliciously bump him."