Bench-clearing brawl as Marlins beat Nationals
MIAMI – Nyjer Morgan once again found himself in the middle of trouble.
The speedy Washington leadoff man charged the mound after a pitch sailed behind him Wednesday night, triggering a bench-clearing brawl during the Florida Marlins’ 16-10 win over the Nationals.
“There’s nothing good I can say about someone who doesn’t play the game the right way and doesn’t respect the integrity of the game,” said Wes Helms, who drove in five runs for Florida. “We had to show we weren’t going to put up with how he was treating us.”
Morgan, recently suspended and criticized by his own manager for questionable acts on the field, left Florida catcher Brett Hayes with a separated shoulder Tuesday night after a home plate collision in the 10th inning.
Chris Volstad (9-9) hit Morgan with a pitch in the fourth inning this time. Morgan then stole two bases with his Nationals trailing 14-3.
“It’s only the fourth inning, there’s still a lot of game left,” Morgan said. “If they are going to hold me on, I’m going to roll out.”
Volstad threw his first pitch of the sixth behind Morgan, setting off a wild scene. Morgan took a big swing that appeared to graze Volstad’s face – Marlins first baseman Gaby Sanchez clothes-lined Morgan, knocking off his batting helmet and sending him to the ground.
“I thought it was over after (the fourth inning), but once I saw the ball go right behind me, it’s time to go,” Morgan said “Once is good enough, but twice, no, it’s time to go.”
And go he went.
“I saw him running out. Obviously he’s not coming out there to talk,” said Volstad, who had an abrasion on his right cheek as a result of the melee.”
“I was just trying to defend myself and not get hurt. Gaby had my back, the whole team had my back,” he said.
The teams piled up, and managers Jim Riggleman of the Nationals and Edwin Rodriguez of the Marlins jawed at each other.
“My feeling has always been if you hit somebody, then you did what you set out to do. Now if he decides to run on you, that’s his business,” Riggleman said about Morgan’s steals. “I got no problem with that and we decide when we run. The Florida Marlins will not decide when we run, we decide when we run.”
Morgan, Volstad, Rodriguez and Marlins pitcher Jose Veras were ejected. Morgan was loudly booed when he raised his arms as he was escorted off the field.
Morgan is currently appealing a seven-game suspension for throwing a ball at a fan in the stands in Philadelphia on Aug. 21.
Last Saturday night, Morgan collided with St. Louis catcher Bryan Anderson, who had stepped a foot or two in front of the plate. Riggleman later called Morgan’s actions “unprofessional.”
“I have nothing to say about Morgan – that’s their problem,” Rodriguez said.
Washington reliever Doug Slaten and Riggleman were ejected after Sanchez was hit with a pitch with two outs in the seventh. Four batters were hit overall.
“They made the decision to throw at Nyjer – they did and then the question is do we throw at them,” Riggleman said. “I got some of my veteran players together and said, ‘It’s your ballclub, if you want someone getting thrown at, I’ll order it right now,’ and everybody said, ‘No, it’s over.’ That being the case, when they threw at him a second time, then it’s not over.”
Helms had three hits in the Marlins’ highest-scoring game since scoring 17 against Colorado on July 4, 2008. Mike Stanton, Brad Davis and Cameron Maybin homered for Florida.
Logan Morrison and Hanley Ramirez each scored three times through the first three innings as the Marlins took a 14-3 lead. Florida scored five runs in the first, five more in the second and four times in the third.
Scott Olsen (3-8) lasted just 1 2-3 innings while losing his sixth straight start. He allowed nine runs and eight hits.
Craig Stammen relieved Olsen and was greeted by Stanton’s 15th home run.
Morgan scored on Ian Desmond’s short sacrifice fly in the fourth. Second baseman Donnie Murphy fell to the ground after catching the ball in short right-center and left the game with a dislocated right wrist.
Davis led off the Florida fourth with his first career home run.
NOTES: Washington 3B Ryan Zimmerman (right hip) was not in the lineup. “He’s a little tender,” said Riggleman, who added Thursday’s off-day will give Zimmerman a two-day rest. … Morgan’s two steals increased his season total to 33. … Marlins 2B Dan Uggla (right groin strain) was not in the lineup for the third straight game. … LHP Andrew Miller will start in place of Ricky Nolasco on Friday against Atlanta. Nolasco (torn medial meniscus) likely is done for the season.
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