Washington Nationals manager Davey Johnson doesn't believe in the notion that a team with a big lead should ease off the gas pedal.
The Chicago Cubs beg to differ.
Therein lies the reason for two near brawls Thursday night in the Nationals' 9-2 rout of the Cubs, which completed a four-game sweep.
First, Cubs bench coach Jamie Quirk began yelling at Nationals third base coach Bo Porter, whose team continued to play aggressively despite its big lead. Quirk was ejected.
In the bottom of the sixth, rookie reliever Lendy Castillo threw inside to Nats rookie Bryce Harper, prompting the benches to empty. Catcher Steve Clevenger was tossed, as was reliever Manny Corpas, who had run in from the bullpen with his teammates.
"You're up 7-2 and Lendy Castillo is pitching," Clevenger said about what started the whole mess in the fifth. "It's 3-0. You don't swing 3-0 in that situation. But, you know, things happen."
Johnson said, "I was proud of my guys for not really over-reacting. We're in a pennant race. We've got to be model citizens. We don't start things, but we're not going to completely back down from anything."
Umpire crew chief Jerry Layne told a pool reporter he initially threw out Quirk and no one else because he thought Quirk started the trouble.
"Quirk was ejected for screaming out obscenities at the third-base coach," Layne told the reporter. "That was the ejection for the coach. The fracas was started because all that stuff happened, and that was instigated by Quirk screaming out at Porter."
In the end, it was another loss and another series sweep suffered by the Cubs.
"It's probably one of the biggest butt whippings I've ever gotten in my career as a coach or a player," Cubs manager Dale Sveum said.