The Dodgers acknowledged that the fifth-inning fight between pitcher Chan Ho Park and Angel starter Tim Belcher contributed to their 7-4, come-from-behind victory Saturday afternoon at Dodger Stadium.
Many players said the bench-clearing altercation--which led to Park's ejection--stirred emotion in the dugout that lifted the Dodgers to their second victory in as many days in the interleague series before a crowd of 44,779.
Park took exception to what he considered Belcher's hard tag after a sacrifice bunt along the first base line and comments after the play. Park responded by shoving his left forearm into Belcher's face and trying to kick him while falling backward.
The Dodgers said it wasn't coincidence that they rallied for five runs in the sixth, four on center fielder Devon White's grand slam to take the lead for good while chasing Belcher.
However, they didn't view the emotional victory as a potentially season-altering event. It will take more than one game to spark a major Dodger turnaround, players said.
Then again, Park may have lit the fuse.
"We can't say for sure what's going to carry us or what's going to help us accomplish what we know we can," said White, whose seventh career grand slam also ignited the Dodgers. "We're capable of a lot of things, though that hasn't happened at this point.
"Maybe [Saturday's victory] and everything that happened is what we need to get us going and keep us going. But we really just have to wait and see because you don't know what [will spark the team] until it happens."
So much happened Saturday.
The Dodgers (28-26) responded better than the Angels (26-29) after the excitement in the fifth.
It appeared that Park and Belcher threw punches while wrestling on the ground, leading to the dugouts being emptied. Park and Belcher were eventually separated by teammates, and umpires restored order.
"He tagged me hard and it hurt," Park said. "I said, 'What's up with that?' He said, 'Get the . . . out of here.' What was I going to do?"
Belcher declined to speak with reporters after the game. In a statement he issued through an Angel spokesman, Belcher said there was "No need to get into the altercation from my standpoint. But I do respect the umpiring crew for leaving me in the game."
National League President Leonard Coleman will review videotapes of the incident. The league is expected to take disciplinary action against Park, who appeared to be the aggressor.
The Angels were leading, 4-0, beginning the sixth on catcher Matt Walbeck's grand slam against Park in the fourth. Walbeck doubled his run-batted-in total for the season to eight with his third home run.
Moreover, Walbeck's blast to right-center on a 2-and-0 count marked the fourth grand slam Park has given up this season, tying a major league record. Park also tied another record by giving up two grand slams in an inning to Fernando Tatis of the St. Louis Cardinals on April 23.
Belcher (3-5) was in command through the first five innings, giving up only three singles to that point. But he wasn't the same after his encounter with Park about halfway between the plate and first base with a runner on in the fifth.
"I'm sure that took something out of him," Walbeck said of his batterymate. "I'm sure he was sore. Any time you get stuck at the bottom of a pile, physically you're drained and mentally you're drained. I'm sure he lost something mentally, if not physically."
The former Dodger pitcher failed to record an out in the sixth while facing five batters and the Dodgers took a 5-4 lead. Belcher gave up the slam to White--his fifth homer--to right-center on the first pitch.
Angel Manager Terry Collins finally removed Belcher after White's slam, but the damage was done. Dodger left fielder Gary Sheffield added a two-run shot--his 12th homer--in the seventh against reliever Shigetoshi Hasegawa to increase the lead to 7-4.
Closer Jeff Shaw earned his 14th save in 15 opportunities by pitching a scoreless ninth. Rookie left-hander Onan Masaoka (1-1) worked a scoreless sixth for his first major league victory.
"He [Belcher] was handling us and then everything happened," Dodger second baseman Eric Young said. "By the line score [after the fifth] it sure looked like that helped get us rolling today."
(BEGIN TEXT OF INFOBOX / INFOGRAPHIC)
ANGELS at DODGERS
Dodgers 5, Angels 4
Dodgers 7, Angels 4
TODAY, 1 P.M.
Ken Hill (2-4, 4.61) vs.
Carlos Perez (2-6, 5.73)
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