Atlanta Brave Manager Bobby Cox admits he intentionally spit in umpire Jerry Dale's face Wednesday night but only in retaliation after he was spit on first. No matter who was first, National League President Chub Feeney did not like it one bit. He hit Cox with an indefinite suspension tonight.

The incident occurred in the ninth inning of the Braves' 6-2 loss to the Los Angeles Dodgers after Dale ruled that Atlanta shortstop Rafael Ramirez had missed second base during a double play attempt.

"Okay, I did it. I intentionally spit in his face. But not until he spit in my face first," Cox said yesterday. If a guy hits you in the jaw, you hit him back, right?"

Dale, however, termed Cox's conduct a "disgraceful, cowardly act."

"The first time I spit on him, it was not intentional," said Cox. "I chew snuff and when my mouth opens, it comes out. I can't help that. But then he (Dale) spit on me intentionally. I don't know why. I guess it was because I was yelling at him and the snuff was coming out. I told him not to spit on me, and then I spit back."

Dale disagreed.

"He spit right in my eye the first time," he said. "Then he spit tobacco in my face and all over my shirt. I've never had anyone do that to me."

Cox was ejected early during the argument when he threw his cap to the ground, and the spitting occurred after Dale had ejected Cox from the game.

Cox will be fined an automatic $100 for throwing his cap.