The Ohio River rivalry between the Reds and the Pirates escalated to new heights Tuesday night when a dramatic bench-clearing brawl broke out in the top of the ninth inning at Great American Ballpark in Cincinnati.
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The trouble began in the seventh inning when Pittsburgh pitcher Keone Kela threw high and inside to Cincinnati second baseman Derek Dietrich.
"I just wanted to show them that we didn't agree with the way things went down, and you have to pitch in," Kela told The Associated Press. "I was just going my part."
But it was Cincinnati first baseman Joey Votto who took exception to Kela's pitch after the inning as he walked toward the Pirates dugout, exchanging words with Kela before plate umpire Larry Vanover intervened.
Then the ejections began.
The first came in the eighth inning, when Reds manager David Bell was tossed for arguing a called strike with Yasiel Puig at bat.
Jared Hughes was ejected shortly thereafter when he struck Pittsburgh outfielder Starling Marte with his first pitch in the top of the ninth.
"The ball just slipped," Hughes told the AP of his errant pitch. "And it was real unfortunate, and a lot of bad things happened afterward."
Then, with tensions already high, Reds relief pitcher Amir Garrett took to the mound -- but not before exchanging some words of his own with the Pirates dugout.
Having apparently had enough, Garrett, who with two out was getting pulled, suddenly sprinted toward the Pittsburgh dugout and began throwing punches, causing both teams to rush the field. The melee lasted for several minutes.
A furious David Bell was one of the first to jump into the fight and went straight for Pirates manager Clint Hurdle, who got knocked to the ground. Bell was then put in a headlock by Pirates pitching coach Rick Eckstein before being separated from the dispute.
But just as tensions seemed to simmer, Puig reignited things by charging at Pirates pitcher Trevor Williams before being held back by members of both teams.
"No one likes getting shown up," Williams told the AP. "Alphas don't like it. You hope it's done. You hope it's over. Hopefully, it won't escalate. Today was pretty bad for us, pretty bad for baseball, pretty bad for everybody."
The fight came at an interesting time for Puig, who is reportedly heading to the Cleveland Indians in a three team deal involving pitcher Trevor Bauer, according to AP.
Puig, who has now been ejected an MLB-high three times this season, received an ovation from the fans in Cincinnati as he left the field following word he was being traded away.
Joey Votto defended his team after the game, telling the AP: "Today was an example of us standing our ground for what we think is right … at some point, a group of players has to do that."
In all, four Pirates and five Reds were ejected from the game.
The Pirates won 11-4, ending a nine-game losing streak. The teams close out their series Wednesday.
"I wouldn't be surprised if it sparks again," Pittsburgh pitcher Joe Musgrove told the AP. "We don't take lightly what happened tonight."