By The Associated Press
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Giants catcher Eli Whiteside called for a fastball inside — and it wound up way inside.
Ramon Ramirez’s pitch hit Shane Victorino square in the lower back, igniting a benches-clearing brawl in San Francisco’s 9-2 loss to the Philadelphia Phillies on Friday night.
The reigning World Series champions are in quite a funk, and the frustration sure showed in their latest loss.
Victorino thought reliever Ramirez plunked him on purpose. The Giants took issue with Jimmy Rollins stealing second with a six-run lead.
Victorino, Ramirez and Whiteside all were ejected after the skirmish.
Tempers flared when Victorino was hit and then started walking toward the mound. Whiteside stepped in front of him. Placido Polanco raced in from second base and was tackled by Whiteside.
“We’re playing baseball. We’re not sending any messages,” new San Francisco slugger Carlos Beltran said. “We’re trying to win ballgames, that’s all. Sometimes hit by pitch is part of the game.”
These teams have become quite the rivals of late after the Giants beat the favored Phillies in six games of the NL championship series last fall on the way to capturing the franchise’s first World Series since moving West in 1958.
Phillies manager Charlie Manuel figures Ramirez just became frustrated.
“He hit Vic, then he came after Vic. Vic almost has to go unless he wants his teammates to call him chicken,” Manuel said. “I think (Ramirez) was getting hit and he got mad and he was going to plunk somebody. He was going to send a message.”
John Mayberry Jr. hit a two-run homer for his second clout in as many games and Vance Worley (8-1) won his sixth straight decision as the Phillies ran their winning streak to a season-best eight games.
Victorino and Hunter Pence also homered for the majors-best Phillies, who haven’t lost since the Giants took two of three from them last week. San Francisco has dropped seven of eight since then.
Giants first baseman Aubrey Huff was in the middle of the scrum and Rollins shoved San Francisco bench coach Ron Wotus as they exchanged words. Victorino pushed plate umpire Mike Muchlinski trying to get back into the fray, then was held back by Wotus and Phillies hitting coach Greg Gross.
“It’s baseball and things happen fast,” Giants manager Bruce Bochy said. “Tempers flare. It’s part of the game. It’s part of the game. It’s competition. Things aren’t going well for us. It happens and you deal with it. … I thought it was fairly clean out there. You hope your guys are trying to break up the fight. We’ll have to see what happens when MLB looks at the video.”
The umpiring crew, which declined to comment afterward before reviewing video, met for several minutes once things settled down and then made the ejections. Crew chief Mike Winters said he might address the brawl Saturday.
Philadelphia led 8-2 at the time, then Pence homered for the second straight night in the seventh.
Whiteside hit a solo homer in the fifth for the Giants before being tossed the next inning.
“I called for a fastball inside and it was a little too far inside. It was a two-seamer,” Whiteside said. “I have no comment on the fight. … I played a little quarterback in high school.”
Worley allowed two runs on seven hits, struck out six and walked one in seven innings, beating the Giants for the second time in three starts after tossing a three-hitter on July 26.
Giants starter Jonathan Sanchez (4-6) lasted 4 2-3 inning in his return from biceps tendinitis that landed him on the disabled list for 36 games. He is winless in his last five starts, going 0-3.
Sanchez took over in the rotation for struggling lefty Barry Zito, who went back on the disabled list with the same sprained right foot that shelved him earlier this year.
Bochy went back to his regular lineup — with Beltran batting third and Pablo Sandoval cleanup — a day after Cliff Lee shut out the Giants 3-0. Sandoval hit a sacrifice fly in the first to put the Giants ahead, but the Phillies jumped on Sanchez in the fourth.
Victorino had a one-out homer and Mayberry connected four batters later. Raul Ibanez added an RBI groundout. Ramirez relieved after back-to-back singles by Polanco and Victorino in the fifth.
Orlando Cabrera was the lone Giant with two hits.
NOTES: Injured Giants C Buster Posey, the reigning NL Rookie of the Year who went down for the season in a home-plate collision with Florida’s Scott Cousins on May 25, could be off crutches this weekend or early next week. He is on one crutch after tearing three ligaments in his left ankle and fracturing a bone in his lower leg. … Zito will pitch in a rehab outing Sunday for Class-A San Jose. Bochy said he could go four or five innings depending how he feels. … RHP Matt Cain goes Saturday for the Giants, trying to beat Philadelphia for the second time in as many starts. His win at Philly last week was his first ever vs. the Phillies. … The Phillies will send LHP Cole Hamels to the mound against the Giants on Saturday. He’s 4-3 against the Giants in nine starts, including a loss in Philadelphia. He is 1-2 over his last four starts. Cody Ross has four home runs in 32 at-bats against Hamels, while Beltran has three in 36.