On a broiling, boisterous night at Turner Field, the lights went out, three Braves were ejected and Atlanta was tossed out of first place after the All-Star break for the first time in five years.
"I'm frustrated with what happened tonight," said Byrd (12-6), a part-time member of the Atlanta pitching staff in 1997 and '98. "You have to understand, I was mistaken for the bat boy here several times, so for all those fans to be yelling at me now, I just started praying."
Perez was tossed in the top of the fourth for shoving and then throwing a punch at Phillies pitcher Paul Byrd, who had hit Perez with a pitch the previous inning. The altercation occurred when Byrd came to bat.
Both benches emptied and a melee ensued, with players on both sides shoving each other. When order was restored, Perez was ejected and replaced by Greg Myers. Perez left the ballpark before the game ended and was not available for comment.
The bad blood between Perez and Byrd, former Braves teammates, started Sunday in Philadelphia when Byrd who leads the majors with 13 hit batters plunked Perez wit a pitch in Atlanta's 5-4, 10-inning win.
"If someone gets hit, there's nothing I can do," Byrd said. "When you hit somebody, you're conscious of trying not to do it again. It's like when you're trying not to walk somebody and then you throw ball three and four. It was not my intention by any means."
In the bottom of the third Friday, Byrd again hit Perez with a pitch. Perez motioned to Byrd and both benches emptied but there there were no physical altercations.
A few minutes later, the stadium went dark. The city-wide outage was caused by an equipment failure at a Georgia Power substation, which was overloaded by high demand due to the hot weather.
When the lights came back on and play resumed, Perez was called out for interference on a grounder by Smoltz.
Following the double play, Cox ran onto the field and argued with second-base umpire Larry Poncino, who then gave the manager his eighth ejection of the season.
With the Braves trailing 4-0 in the top of the fourth, Smoltz was ejected by plate umpire Jerry Meals after hitting Alex Arias with a pitch. Smoltz charged toward Meals, who didn't give the pitcher a warning before ejecting him.
"What happened to me personally is a joke," Smoltz said. "An umpire has no business making that call without a warning. He took the ball game in his hands and that's a joke. No warning, no nothing. That guy had no business making that call."
Meals was not available for comment.
Russ Springer replaced Smoltz and two batters later, Byrd came to the plate with Arias on first and two outs. Byrd apologized to Perez for hitting him the previous inning, but the catcher attacked him anyway.
"It surprised me," Byrd said. "Apologies obviously weren't going to work this time."
Rico Brogna went 3-for-5 with a three-run homer for the Phillies, who trail the Mets by 4 ½ games.
Bobby Abreu also had three hits for the Phillies, raising his average to .341. Abreu, who had four hits against Florida on Thursday, extended his streak of reaching base to seven by doubling in the first, tripling in the third and singling in the fifth.
The streak ended when he struck out in the seventh
Byrd (12-6) won for the first time since July 3, holding the Braves to three hits and one run. Smoltz (8-4) lasted only 3 2-3 innings, giving up four runs and five hits.
Smoltz said he's not worried about the Braves dropping out of first place.
"It's not that big a deal," he said. "We haven't been playing that good. It's not much to worry about."
The Phillies added two runs in the eighth on solo homers by Rolen and Lieberthal. The homer was Lieberthal's career-high 21st of the season.
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