Teams touchy after incident Sunday
CHICAGO -- Both benches cleared briefly in the second inning of Friday's game between the Houston Astros and the Chicago Cubs when Cubs catcher Michael Barrett began jawing with Astros' pitcher Roy Oswalt, five days after Oswalt hit him in the back with a pitch.
No punches were thrown as home plate umpire C.B. Bucknor intervened and steered the angry Barrett back away from Oswalt. The two teams rushed out of their dugouts and lingered near home plate without incident for a minute or two.
Oswalt was ejected for hitting Barrett in Houston last Sunday following a three-run homer by Aramis Ramirez. Two innings later, Cubs starter Kerry Wood also was tossed for hitting Jeff Kent with a pitch after both benches had been warned.
Barrett said after that game that he "thought he [Oswalt] was better than that" and warned: "We're going to see him again."
With Wood on the mound Friday in another matchup with Oswalt, Barrett and Oswalt exchanged words when the Houston pitcher came to the plate to lead off the second with the Astros leading 4-2.
After the brief altercation, Oswalt grounded out and the two again exchanged a few words after Barrett had run down the first-base line to back up the throw.
In the top of the sixth, Oswalt again came up as the leadoff hitter, with the Astros leading 8-4, and he was hit in the thigh by the first pitch from Cubs reliever Kent Mercker. Both benches stayed off the field this time as Bucknor warned Mercker and the two dugouts. Astros manager Phil Garner came out to talk to Bucknor.
Cubs manager Dusty Baker said before the game that he didn't expect any repercussions from last Sunday's incidents. But, he added: "We didn't start it in the first place."
Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press
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