What began as a promising string of victories against a fellow playoff contender ended with plenty of ill will from the Los Angeles Dodgers, who lost their series finale at Pittsburgh on Thursday in a game that included a rash of ejections.
Slugger Matt Kemp and manager Don Mattingly never made it out of the second inning and newly-acquired starting pitcher Joe Blanton got tossed as he was returning to the dugout after he had been pulled from the game. The subject of their ire? Home plate umpire Angel Campos, a summer fill-in whose ball-and-strike calls ticked off the Los Angeles dugout from the start of the matinee.
According to Kemp, the dugout was chirping about Campos’ strike calls in the bottom of the second inning and was given a warning. When Kemp shouted “Let’s go ’Dre,” as encouragement for teammate Andre Ethier, who was at the plate, Campos ejected him. That prompted Mattingly to sprint out of the dugout to argue, and Kemp was right behind him.
Mattingly and teammates had to restrain Kemp, who bumped into an umpire at least once before finally leaving the field. Mattingly was ejected moments later.
“You’ve got two teams going at it in a pennant race,” Kemp said after the game. “We’re trying to build the lead against the Giants and Arizona, and I get thrown out for cheering my teammate.”
The Dodgers had won the first three games of their series with the Pirates — including a pair of shutouts — but head to Atlanta with only a half-game lead on San Francisco in the NL West. Los Angeles is 1/2 game behind Pittsburgh for the second and final NL wild-card spot. The Braves currently own the top spot in the wild-card race and are 4 1/2 up on the Dodgers.
“The league should look at it,” said Mattingly, who was ejected for the sixth time this season. “We're in a pennant race. I’ve got the guy who was second in the MVP [vote] last year. You can’t get thrown out for cheering for your teammate. That’s unacceptable.”