ATLANTA -- One inside pitch in June led to the Brewers and Braves exchanging blows in September, and a conciliatory Carlos Gomez admitted Wednesday night that he should have handled his revenge with a bit more subtlety.
In the rubber match of the three-game series at Turner Field, Gomez hit a home run against Braves starter Paul Maholm in the first inning and watched for a long while as the baseball sailed out to left-center field. Braves catcher Brian McCann was the first to yell at Gomez to "run!" and Gomez, still steaming about a Maholm fastball that struck his left knee on June 23 at Miller Park, yelled back, then kept yelling all the way around the bases.
Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said he'd "never seen anything like it in my baseball career, whether it be the big leagues, Minor Leagues or little leagues," and McCann apparently felt the same, because he angrily confronted Gomez about 10 feet up the third-base line, preventing completion of the now-viral home run trot.
The fight was on. Both benches cleared and several players threw punches. Braves reserve Reed Johnson punched Gomez in the head, and, amid the scuffle, Braves first baseman Freddie Freeman connected with a forearm to Brewers third baseman Aramis Ramirez's face.
Gomez was ultimately restrained by a group of teammates and pulled away from a pile that had pushed all the way to the backstop.
"I did a little bit more [than I should have], and I apologize for this," Gomez said. "But if you see the replay [from June], they hit me for no reason, and I tried to get it back today. It's the only opportunity that I have, and that's what I did.
"It's nothing against the organization, for the Braves. I respect everyone. I would do the same thing if I'm on the other side if a guy did like I did today. Defend my teammate. But they are not in my head and on my side -- they hit me for no reason. If I do something to get hit, I put my head down and go to first. But I didn't deserve to get hit by a pitch last time, [so] that's what I did today.
"I feel bad for all that happened today, because they're in a situation, they're going to the playoffs, and I don't want anybody to get injured from my team or from their team."
The way I carried myself on the field is unacceptable, I should have done better to control myself and set a good example.- Carlos Gomez (@C_Gomez27) September 26, 2013
Gomez, Freeman and Braves backup catcher Gerald Laird were ejected after the umpires, led by crew chief Dana DeMuth, converged on the infield. They ruled that the run counted, even though Gomez never touched home plate, invoking Rule 7.06(a), which says an "obstructed runner shall be awarded at least one base beyond the base he had last legally touched before the obstruction."
"There was two ways there, but it was definitely obstruction," DeMuth said. "The other way is just like if a guy hits a game-winning home run [and] the fans come on the field and he never makes it home. There was a reason why he didn't make it to home."
Brewers starter Kyle Lohse did the rest, pitching a two-hit shutout for a 4-0 Brewers win.
Gomez confirmed after the game that his beef dated back to June 23 at Miller Park, when a Maholm fastball struck Gomez in the left knee. Gomez, who wound up leaving that game in the fourth inning after injuring his shoulder on a leaping catch at the center-field wall, was upset after that game, believing Maholm had intentionally struck him.
How was he so sure Maholm hit him on purpose?
"You can watch the replay and you get answers," Gomez said. "I know. I've been in the league seven years, and I know when I get hit on purpose and when not. I get hit many times, and I put my head down, I make no controversy for my hit by pitch. I always, in seven years, put my head down and walk to first, and nobody can say nothing about that. But today, I feel like I had to take it back, and that's what I did."
Gomez said Maholm had hit him twice previously, "but the last one is what I remember. This is what made me limp for two weeks because they hit me right on the bone on my knee and I was limping for two weeks. That's not fun."
Countered Maholm: "Obviously, he held on to it. I guess every guy that hits him, he's going to decide to act like that. I've hit plenty of guys, I've given up plenty of homers. He's not the first, he's not the last, but I'm probably going to say he's the last guy who's going to act like that when he hits a homer."
Brewers manager Ron Roenicke understood why the Braves were upset.
"He's hit him a couple of times, and 'Gomey,' I'm sure, wanted to smoke a ball off him, and he stood there too long," Roenicke said. "Both ends of it were excessive."
Roenicke also understood why McCann wasn't among the players ejected.
"There's a lot that was happening there, and if you want to eject him, then you have to get everybody who was chewing on [Gomez] as he went around. So, who's ejected?" Roenicke said. "There was a lot."
Roenicke chatted with Gomez after the game to discuss, "Just the whole thing. Great, he hit a home run off him, but get down the line. But it's not all Gomey's fault. Somebody starts yelling at you, and he's hot-tempered, and then you get everybody yelling at him the whole way, a guy standing in front of home plate. So he's not the only one that's to blame."
The fracas also cost the Brewers Ramirez, who re-injured his left knee and left the game in the bottom of the third inning. He will be re-evaluated on Thursday in New York.
Does Roenicke worry that Gomez could draw a suspension from Major League Baseball?
"They may try to do something," Roenicke said. "I don't know."