- Associated Press - Wednesday, April 16, 2014

MIAMI —  The pitch was high and inside to the Washington Nationals’ Ian Desmond, and he didn’t like it. So he hollered at Miami Marlins pitcher Tom Koehler and spat toward the mound.

Catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia stepped toward Desmond, and a nose-to-nose exchange commenced. That prompted both benches and bullpens to empty.

“No big deal,” Desmond said. “It wasn’t intended to escalate to what it did.”

The confrontation was a draw. The game was all Marlins, who beat Washington 11-2 Tuesday to break an eight-game losing streak.

Stephen Strasburg lasted only four innings and gave up six runs, including three on a homer by Giancarlo Stanton. Washington managed only one hit in seven innings against Koehler.

The score was already 6-0 in the fourth inning when Desmond took exception to Koehler pitching high and inside.

“I wasn’t necessarily thinking that he had intentions of hitting me,” Desmond said. “You can drill me in the ribs or drill me in the legs. But four or five missing up around the hands around the head … I’m not claiming it to be on purpose, but you have to be able to control the ball.”

What did Desmond holler at Koehler?

“He just told me to throw the ball over the plate,” Koehler said. “Obviously — that’s how you get strikes.”

And what did Saltalamacchia say to Desmond?

“I just said, ‘Hey man, we weren’t trying to hit you. Just relax,’” Saltalamacchia said.

Umpire Marty Foster stepped between them, and the standoff didn’t escalate.

“Just competition — a ball thrown up and in,” Nationals manager Matt Williams said. “I don’t think it was intentional. It’s just playing the game, guys competing.”

The at-bat ended with Desmond popping out. When he returned to the dugout, he threw his helmet against the wall.

Koehler said he went into the game mindful of the need to pitch inside against the Nationals.

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