ST. LOUIS - By the way, the Diamondbacks beat the St. Louis Cardinals 1-0 Sunday at Busch Stadium to win a series for the first time this season.
But the talk afterward focused on a bench-clearing fight, which included Arizona's Miguel Batista throwing a baseball at St. Louis’ Tino Martinez, and four ejections.
“It was one of those situations where boys will be boys,” said Arizona's Mark Grace, who suffered a strained groin in the fifth-inning pileup. “It's a great part of baseball that unfortunately is less and less. Guys get hit, guys get (ticked) off, guys fight.”
The fisticuffs came in the fifth inning when Martinez, who had been hit by a pitch from Batista, charged Batista after being forced out at second base. Batista threw the ball at Martinez, a brawl ensued, and both were ejected after the field was cleared.
Suspensions seem likely.
Two more ejections came in the top of the ninth, after Cardinals lefty Jeff Fassero plunked Luis Gonzalez — quite obviously in retaliation. That got Fassero and St. Louis manager Tony La Russa the thumb because of a warning issued after the fight.
Neither Batista nor Martinez spoke to the media after the game.
These teams have as much familiarity as any non-division rivals in the National League, having met the past two years in the NL Division Series. The teams do not meet again until the final series of the regular season, Sept. 26-28 in Phoenix.
“Every time we play each other they're heated games,” Gonzalez said.
Batista hit Martinez in the back leading off the fifth inning. The two exchanged glares as Martinez made his way toward first but apparently did not exchange words.
Umpire crew chief Ed Montague, umpiring at third base, said he told Batista and Martinez, “Let's go, knock it off.”
Said Montague, “To me that's taunting — on both parts.”
Catcher Chad Moeller said there was no intent to hit Martinez: “Miguel's whole game is cutters inside to left-handers.”
After making a clean slide to break up a double play on J.D. Drew's grounder, Martinez initially headed back to the first-base dugout. Then he made a sudden right turn toward the mound. Once again, no one heard words exchanged.
Batista fired the ball at Martinez — missing from no more than 4 feet away as Martinez came in with a punch. The benches emptied, and — unlike in some baseball fights — quite a few punches were thrown.
“Tino probably didn't like the fact that Miguel was staring at him,” Grace said, “and I'm sure Miguel didn't like the fact that Tino was staring at him. It becomes a ‘Who's-(manhood)-is-bigger contest?’ And they found out. They went. They went at it pretty good.”
Said La Russa: “(Batista) just stared at (Martinez) like, ‘Hey I meant to do it, the whole time.’ That’s ridiculous. I don’t know if there is history there, but that’s the kind of stuff that hitters take offense to when they take a plunking.”
Cards starter Brett Tomko (1-2) said Batista's throw was “bush (league). You don’t do that stuff.”
Arizona manager Bob Brenly did not think Batista should have been punished.
“I really don't know what Miguel Batista's supposed to do to protect himself against a 240-pound charging bull who's supposed to leave the field immediately after he's retired,” Brenly said. “The guy's just out there trying to defend himself. . . . I don't know what you're supposed to do as a pitcher — just stand there and let the guy drive you down through the rubber?”
Said Montague: “Where do you draw the line with self-defense and fighting? He got a couple of good shots in . . . so it's pretty automatic right there. Plus he threw the baseball at him.”
Gonzalez said he had “no doubt” La Russa ordered Fassero to hit him.
“I know it's part of the game, and I know how Tony is over there,” Gonzalez said. “The first pitch was 4 feet outside and the next one was right at me. If you're going to hit me, hit me on the first pitch and everything else will be OK.”
Said Fassero: “I still believe in the old way of settling scores for teams and stuff like that. You protect your guys and that’s how I think baseball should be played.”
Batista, working on short rest, pitched brilliantly before the fireworks. Oscar Villarreal (who earned his first major league win), Mike Myers and Matt Mantei (second save in two days) made David Dellucci's fifth-inning RBI double stand up.
Mantei got the last out of the eighth inning but had a shaky ninth. After Edgar Renteria led off with a double and Jim Edmonds walked — Mantei's first of the season — Mantei struck out Scott Rolen and Miguel Cairo. Mantei, who had pitched two innings the day before for a save, hit Drew on the right elbow with a pitch to load the bases but then struck out Mike Matheny with a fastball that read 100 mph on the D-Backs' radar gun.
In addition to Grace's groin injury, D-Backs second baseman Junior Spivey said someone “clipped” his left shoulder. Spivey said he felt OK after the game but, “I know I'll feel it in the morning.”
Grace said he will be out “a couple of days.”
“I was on my knees holding somebody down, and the pile came on top of me, and I did the splits,” he said. “I could do the splits a few years ago, but I can't do them any more.”