CHICAGO -- Michael Barrett was waiting for the ball when A.J. Pierzynski ran him over. Barrett's reaction? He got up and punched the White Sox catcher in the jaw, setting off a melee between Chicago's two baseball teams.
"I don't know how to say it. I mean, when you hit another grown man, it's never right, you know," the Cubs' Barrett said Saturday after the White Sox won 7-0 behind two homers and six RBI from Tadahito Iguchi.
Barrett said Pierzynski had every right to run into him, but added that the White Sox's catcher -- who always seems to be in the middle of wild plays -- got up and nudged him after the collision, instead of heading toward his dugout.
Pierzynski, who slapped the plate emphatically, said he was trying to pick up his helmet that had been knocked off when the two catchers collided.
"I got sucker-punched," Pierzynski said.
"He grabbed me and said, 'I didn't have the ball' and then he punched me. ... I was trying to pick up my helmet. I tried to take a step around him and he grabbed me. I thought he was going to say 'Hey, are you OK?' And I was going to say the same thing. The words came out, I got hit and the next thing I know, all hell broke loose."
It's a play that will certainly be talked about for years in a city with strong and divided passions for its two baseball teams, whose playing fields are just eight miles apart.
And it will almost certainly result in fines and suspensions.
"I expect to be disciplined, that's part of the price," said Barrett, adding he wishes he had just pushed Pierzynski instead.
Pierzynski and Barrett were ejected, as were the White Sox's Brian Anderson and the Cubs' John Mabry who got into another fight moments later. Mabry was taken to a hospital to have sore ribs X-rayed. The White Sox's Scott Podsednik, who was in the on-deck circle, wrestled Barrett to the ground but was not ejected.
"I was right there," said Podsednik, who declined further comment. The umpires also refused comment after the game. Pierzynski, who tried to contact Barrett after the game, said he wasn't sure why he was ejected, other than to restore peace.
Anderson was near the plate after hitting the bases-loaded sacrifice fly that scored Pierzynski.
"I really can't explain my actions. I was getting caught up trying to stick up for my teammate," Anderson said.
Minutes after play resumed following a nearly 15-minute delay, Iguchi hit a grand slam and then later added a two-run shot to back strong pitching by Freddy Garcia.
"I saw a clean play by A.J. That's how you play the game," Cubs manager Dusty Baker said.
"I think it was pretty gutless," losing pitcher Rich Hill said. "Him hitting Michael when he didn't even have the ball. That's not how you play the game. ... It's pathetic."
Garcia (7-1) won his seventh straight decision, allowing eight hits in eight shutout innings. He was backed by three double plays against a Cubs team that has lost 17 of 21.
As Pierzynski went back to the dugout after being punched, he raised his hands in the air while most of the fans in a sellout crowd of 39,387 at U.S. Cellular Field roared. He slapped hands with his teammates and pointed to his jaw.
Considered an agitator by opponents, Pierzynski has long been one of the most unpopular players in the majors. Last year in the ALCS, Pierzynski raced to first after a disputed strikeout and was called safe, setting up the White Sox's winning rally against the Angels in Game 2. The White Sox went on to win their first World Series title in 88 years.
Umpires huddled to determine who should be ejected. Barrett was not initially tossed, even taking some warmup pitches.
"I thought the umpires did a tremendous job because it could have been real ugly," White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen said.
After order was restored, Podsednik drew a walk from Hill (0-4) to load the bases again and Iguchi connected on his first career slam to make it 5-0. He homered again off Hill following a single by Podsednik in the fifth.
Hill, still searching for his first major league win, gave up five hits and seven runs in four-plus innings, while issuing five walks.
- Iguchi had his first multihomer game, and his six RBI were a career high.
- In their 20 games before Saturday, the Cubs' offensive woes were best summed up by this: They were batting just .146 with runners in scoring position.
- The White Sox were still waiting to decide what roster move they would make when Jose Contreras is officially activated from the disabled list to start Sunday's series finale. A relief pitcher is expected to be sent to the minors. Contreras, who has won 13 straight regular-season decisions over two seasons, was placed on the DL earlier this month with sciatica.
- Garcia is 4-0 in four career starts against the Cubs.