BOSTON David Ortiz connected on a big swing early, then missed with a flurry of late ones.
"Big Papi" hit a three-run homer as the Boston Red Sox scored eight times in the first inning of a 10-3 win over Baltimore on Friday night. In the eighth, he whiffed on a few punches during a bench-clearing brawl with Orioles reliever Kevin Gregg.
Ortiz and Gregg exchanged several wild punches, both coming close but not quite connecting in what could have turned into an even uglier scene as the benches and bullpens cleared for the second time in the inning.
"I think you show them that we're not backing down. We're not scared of them them and their $180 million payroll," said Gregg, who angered Ortiz with back-to-back inside pitches. "We don't care. We're here to play the game. We have just as much right to play the game here and we're going to do everything we can to win."
Gregg said he yelled at Ortiz for not running toward first on a popout, which apparently enraged Ortiz. Gregg, whose team was about to lose its fifth straight in another blowout, was ready when Big Papi charged.
"I was actually watching the ball and then you look down and there's two humongous guys going at it," said Boston second baseman Dustin Pedroia. "In that situation, you just try to support your teammates and you try to break it up. That's pretty much it."
Plate umpire Mike Estabrook immediately ejected Gregg when he started shouting and Ortiz quickly changed course, charging toward the mound.
Gregg and Ortiz each threw a few haymakers, but the heavyweight bout was swallowed up by the mass of players rushing onto the field.
"They're going to whine and complain about it because they think they're better than everybody else, but no, we have just as much right to pitch inside as they do. This is a team sport. I take offense to every run scored off every one of our pitchers. I take offense to every one of our hitters that's hit every time I'm out there," Gregg said. "You get tired of getting your butt kicked every night when you come in here and I'm going to stick up for what's ours and try to get the plate back."
It took more than 15 minutes to restore order and sort out the ejections. Gregg and Ortiz were tossed, as well as Red Sox catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia and Baltimore reliever Jim Johnson.
Ortiz did not speak to reporters after the game.
Baltimore manager Buck Showalter said he didn't want to talk about who said what that set off the melee.
"It's a game played by passionate men that care about what they're doing, and we're kind of wounded right now. I'm sure he took some exception to swinging 3-0 there and I'm sure (Ortiz) took some exception to trying to pitch him in," Showalter said. "It's part of the game."
The Orioles, who allowed 10 or more runs for the fourth time in five games, were flustered after the Red Sox sent 13 batters to the plate in the opening inning and tagged starter Zach Britton for seven earned runs on six hits and two walks. Ortiz hit a three-run shot.
It was Boston's fourth straight win, and it extended Baltimore's losing streak to five.