Nationals stick it to Angels

Nationals stick it to Angels

ANAHEIM -- A near-fight between Nationals manager Frank Robinson and Angels skipper Mike Scioscia overshadowed the fact that the Nationals won the game, 6-3, in front of 43,874 fans at Angel Stadium of Anaheim on Tuesday night.

The Nationals have won 11 of their last 12 games and are in first place in the National League East, two games ahead of the Phillies.

The Nationals' accomplishments were minor compared to what happened in the top of the seventh inning.

With Brian Schneider on first base and the Angels leading, 3-1, Scioscia decided to take starter Ervin Santana out of the game in favor of right-hander Brendan Donnelly, who was going to face Carlos Baerga.

Robinson, however approached home-plate umpire Tim Tschida and asked him to inspect Donnelly's glove. Robinson believed that Donnelly had pine tar on the glove and sandpaper on his pitching hand. Robinson believed that Donnelly gave the sandpaper to second baseman Adam Kennedy.

About five minutes later and after the umpires huddled, Donnelly was ejected for having pine tar on the glove.

"There was a foreign substance on the heel of the glove. It was definitely pine tar. It was obvious and it was a lot of it," said crew chief Dale Scott. "The rule is 8.02(b) that says no foreign substances allowed. It's an automatic ejection. We have confiscated the glove. We are going to send it to Major League Baseball tomorrow.

"We don't know anything about sandpaper. Donnelly didn't put up much resistance."

Before the series started, the Nationals looked at videotapes of the Angels and noticed that Donnelly had foreign substances in the glove.

Robinson showed the warmup ball Donnelly allegedly threw and it showed pine tar stains and a cut, which Robinson said was caused by the sandpaper.

After several minutes of arguing, Scioscia then called in reliever Scot Shields. But before going back to the dugout, Scioscia was seen yelling at Robinson near the first-base line and had to be restrained by Tschida before both benches and bullpens emptied. There were no punches thrown.

After the game, Robinson praised Scioscia for working hard to become a great manager. But Robinson then said he lost respect for Scioscia after what transpired on Tuesday night.

"His guy got caught tonight cheating, and he was way off base," Robinson said. He took me by surprise and it was a threat. He said he was going to have every one of my pitchers undress when they came out there on the mound, no matter whom it was. I took it as a threat. It was uncalled for. It had nothing to do with the situation."

Robinson was not the only one who was hot. Three members of the Nationals -- batting practice pitcher Jose Martinez, bench coach Eddie Rodriquez and reliever Antonio Osuna -- had to restrain outfielder Jose Guillen. They had to drag Guillen all the way to the dugout. Guillen was upset that Scioscia, a 46-year-old man, was picking on Robinson, who is 69.

That's the stuff that [made me mad]. We are talking about respect Frank," Guillen said. "It's a [69-]year-old man against a 40-something-year-old man. Frank deserves more respect than that."

This is not the first time Guillen was upset with Scioscia. Last season, the skipper took Guillen, then an Angel, out of a game for a pinch-runner, which caused Guillen to get upset. The Angels eventually suspended Guillen for the last week of the 2004 season and the postseason because of inappropriate conduct following his removal for a pinch-runner on Sept. 25 against the A's.

This year, Guillen defended his actions on Tuesday against the Angels.

"I was protecting my teammates. I was there because I was supposed to be there. That was it," Guillen said.

Robinson, who was prepared to fight Scioscia if necessary, said he wasn't going to allow the Angels skipper to walk all over him.

"This game is highly competitive and emotions can get high, but if one of your men gets caught cheating, you think you can come over and disrespect me right in my face when I'm doing my job. I wasn't going to let that happened," Robinson said. "If I got close to him, we would have probably had a little brawl."

Order was restored 10 minutes later, with both teams being warned. The Nationals didn't score a run in the seventh inning.

In the bottom of the inning, Scioscia had the umpires check reliever Gary Majewski's glove and hat for foreign substances, but nothing was found.

"We found nothing. He had a lot of string on his glove, which is not against the rules," Scott said.

Said Robinson, "He had Majewski checked. He came out clean. When [Scioscia] was told that, he came up with a weak approach. He wanted the umpires to go back out there and have Majewski tie up his laces on his glove. I lost a lot for Mike tonight -- as a person and as a manager. There's nothing he can say to me -- nothing. I don't want him to approach me, don't even want him apologize to me. I will not accept it."

Majewski wound up the winning pitcher, as the Nationals took advantage of Shields in the top of the eighth inning by scoring four runs.

After Ryan Church led off the inning by being hit by a pitch, Guillen, who has been booed throughout the series, took an 0-1 pitch and hit the ball over the left-field wall to tie the score at 3. It was Guillen's 11th home run of the season.

"He was fired up more than anybody else," Robinson said. "He got the bat moving. You can see what happens, when he has the bat going forward. The ball looked like a missile going out of here."

As he was running the bases, Guillen was animated. He was giving hard high-fives after approaching home plate.

"I'm really an emotional guy and I told the guys, 'Let's go.' That was it," Guillen said.

After Nick Johnson flied out for the first out of the inning, Vinny Castilla reached base on an error by Orlando Cabrera. After Wil Cordero collected his first hit of the season to put runners on first and second, Junior Spivey singled to right to score Castilla and give the Nationals a 4-3 lead.

Cordero scored the fifth run of the game on a sacrifice fly by Schneider.

The Nationals added to their lead off Joel Peralta in the ninth. Castilla hit another grounder to Cabrera, who booted the ball, which allowed Brad Wilkerson to score.

Luis Ayala and Chad Cordero shut out the Angels in the eighth and ninth, respectively, with Cordero picking up his 20th save of the season.

"We hold a team to three runs or less, we are right in the ballgame and we usually comeback late in the ballgame and win those ballgames as we did tonight," Robinson said. "I feel the [near-brawl] got the guys going."

Bill Ladson is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.