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Phillies, Braves trade unspoken messages

By JOE CIALINI UPI Sports Writer

PHILADELPHIA -- The Atlanta Braves and Philadelphia Phillies exchanged unspoken words Wednesday -- on the field and off.

Phillies reliever Roger McDowell started the conversation when he plunked Atlanta's Otis Nixon with a pitch in the ninth inning of Wednesday's 9-2 Braves' victory.

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Plate umpire Bob Davidson, recalling a brawl between the two teams two weeks ago that started when Nixon was hit by a pitch, immediately ejected McDowell from the game.

Nixon, who charged the Phillies' Wally Ritchie and leveled him with a karate kick after being hit, then exchanged words with McDowell from the first-base bag.

Predictably, Atlanta starter Tom Glavine, who had nearly perfect control in the first eight innings, threw four very inside pitches to former teammate Dale Murphy leading off the bottom of the ninth.

After his fourth pitch, Glavine was also ejected and that quelled the furor on the field.

And no one was interested in fueling the fire after the game. At least publicly.

'I'm glad we won the ballgame,' Nixon said. 'That other stuff, I'm not going to comment on. What's important is that we won.'

Nixon was suspended for four days and Ritchie one for the previous confrontation. Both have appealed, although Ritchie is on the disabled list because of injuries suffered in the brawl.

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'Who said (McDowell) was throwing at (Nixon)?' Phillies Manager Jim Fregosi said. 'He hit him but nobody said he was throwing at him. I guess (Davidson) thought he was because he kicked him out of the game.'

McDowell kept a straight face as he denied trying to hit Nixon.

'I was just trying to establish the inside part of the plate,' he said. 'Otis Nixon is a slap hitter and for me to be effective, I can't let him dive across the plate.'

Glavine may have been placed in the most uncomfortable position. Required to defend his teammate, he had to send a message to Murphy, whom he holds in high regard.

'When he was here and things were going bad for me, he was always there to pat me on the back and give me some encouragement,' Glavine said. 'It was an uncomfortable situation, that's all I want to say about it.'

Murphy wanted to say little more.

'We just played a little dodge ball,' Murphy said. 'I don't want to read minds or anything. Whatever happened, happened. I don't know how to evaluate it or characterize it.'

Atlanta's Jeff Blauser was more clear.

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'(Glavine) was sending a message to the other side,' he said. 'If you go after our players, there's going to be a flip side to the coin. I have a lot of respect for Tom. He stuck up for his teammates and his teammates appreciate that.

'(But) if it had been a different hitter, something different might have happened.'

The Phillies and Braves next meet on Aug. 23 in Atlanta. Stay tuned for further developments.

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