- The Washington Times - Sunday, June 5, 2005

Washington Nationals outfielder Marlon Byrd’s emotional outburst overshadowed arguably the club’s best win of the season last night.

Nick Johnson and Vinny Castilla combined to drive in five runs to lead the Nationals to an important 7-3 victory over the Florida Marlins before 33,198 at RFK Stadium.

However, Byrd became the story although his team was battling for first place in the National League East when second base umpire Joe Brinkman was flat on his back in the infield dirt with Byrd being restrained by teammates between the sixth and seventh inning.

First-base umpire Bill Miller ejected Byrd for arguing a called third strike on a checked-swing appeal to Miller. Replays of the pitch later showed that Byrd had a good case, but his reaction to getting ejected will probably result in a fine and possibly a suspension tomorrow when the league’s New York office opens for business.

When Miller ejected Byrd, the Nationals’ left fielder charged toward first base. Brinkman tried to stop Byrd from going after Miller, but the Nationals’ iron-pumping outfielder broke Brinkman’s grasp, and the veteran ump ended up on his back between first and second base.

“I saw Byrd running toward my partner Bill Miller, and I thought I would try and get in front of him,” Brinkman said. “Once I couldn’t get in front of him, I put my arm out and he hit my arm, just spun me around and flipped me, and I ended up on the ground. That’s all that happened.”

When asked if he thought the muscular Byrd intentionally threw him to the ground, Brinkman said, “I really don’t know. I don’t know what the intent was.”

The victory was not enough for the Nationals (30-26) to climb into sole possession of first place because of Atlanta’s 1-0 win over the Pittsburgh Pirates. The Nationals remained one-half game behind the Braves (30-25).

The Nationals are now 5-1 on this 13-game homestand and have won six of their past seven games.

Even Byrd wanted to talk about the win and not his ejection. Byrd, who the Nationals acquired May14 in a trade with the Philadelphia Phillies for ineffective outfielder Endy Chavez, had been a huge boost for the injury-depleted Nationals until last night’s meltdown.

“Did you hear me? I’m going to talk about the win and that’s it,” Byrd said when asked to tell his version of the incident.

Said Nationals second baseman Jamey Carroll: “When I turned around, I saw [Miller] throw him out, and two seconds later [Byrd] came running by, and Joe tried to grab ahold of him. Marlon is a pretty big guy, so he kind of just rolled off of him and everybody got between the two.”

Afterward, Brinkman had a visible scrape on the right side of his forehead.

The Nationals gave Ohka early run support with a three-run first inning, but the Japanese hurler was unable to protect the lead. Ohka ran into trouble every inning until manager Frank Robinson pulled the right-hander with one out in the fourth inning and replaced him with Sun-woo Kim. The Marlins scored one run in each of the first three innings.

Historically, Ohka’s only victory over Florida came May29, 2003. Since then, he’s 0-8 with a 5.82 ERA in nine starts against Florida.

Florida leadoff man Juan Pierre reached on a throwing error by Nationals shortstop Cristian Guzman in the first inning. With two out, Pierre scored on Miguel Cabrera’s double to right field.

The Nationals took a 3-1 lead in their half off Al Leiter. With one out, Carroll singled to left before Jose Guillen, was hit on the left hand by a pitch. Leiter then hit first baseman Nick Johnson in the side to load the bases. Vinny Castilla made Leiter pay dearly for his lack of control, drilling a first-pitch fastball into the gap in left for a double that cleared the bases.

Ohka allowed the Marlins to chip away each inning until they tied the game 3-3 in the third on Juan Encarnacion’s leadoff home run.

Ohka opened the fourth getting Pierre to hit a comebacker for the first out but then allowed Luis Castillo to single to left and walked slugger Carlos Delgado. That was enough for Robinson. In just 31/3 innings, Ohka threw 81 pitches and allowed seven hits.

Kim came in and retired the first seven batters he faced over three innings. Facing Cabrera with two runners aboard after that, Kim struck out the National League’s second-best hitter.

Kim pitched 31/3 scoreless innings and allowed three singles. The Korean struck out four and walked just one in his second appearance with the Nationals.

The Nationals took a 4-3 lead in the fifth inning when Carroll doubled down the left-field line with one out. Guillen moved Carroll to third with a fly to deep left field, and Johnson increased his team-leading RBI total to 32 when he ripped a single into center field.

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