ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) - J.P. Howell threw more than a home run ball.
Colby Rasmus hit a three-run shot off Howell during a wild eighth inning that featured four ejections and the St. Louis Cardinals beat the Tampa Bay Rays 5-3 on Friday night.
Howell was thrown out by plate umpire Vic Carapazza when the left-hander threw his glove to the ground after the homer and also spiked the new ball tossed to him by the umpire. Howell then walked toward the plate area and had to be restrained.
``I didn't cuss at him or anything like that,' Howell said. ``He threw me a ball ... I slapped the ball away and I said I want a new one, and I was yelling. He couldn't hear me and he asked me if I was yelling at him. I told him I should be yelling at you but I'm not. And then he rung me, and that's when I wanted to get my money's worth anyway.'
Crew chief Dana DeMuth said he didn't see Howell make any contact with Carapazza.
``A lot of things were happening in the heat of the moment,' DeMuth said. ``He was arguing balls and strikes. He wasn't saying, 'Are you having a good day?''
First base umpire Doug Eddings ejected Rays pitcher David Price and reserve infielder Elliot Johnson for comments made from the dugout.
``They were on the steps, doing what they were doing,' DeMuth said. ``That will come in the report. But the main reason, it all stems from balls and strikes. It escalated. You're not allowed to argue balls and strikes even if you're sitting on the bench. I'm glad it only ended up with (four ejections). It was headed for more.'
Johnson said he was defending Howell.
``It just seemed like DeMuth came in from second base and it seemed like he kind of lost control of himself in that situation,' Johnson said. ``It just seemed like he was yelling at J.P. and I was just trying to defend him. I wasn't swearing at the man or name-calling or anything like that.'
Earlier in the eighth, Tampa Bay manager Joe Maddon was ejected by Carapazza for arguing from the dugout after Lance Berkman drew a two-out walk on 3-2 pitch.
Jake Westbrook gave up two hits in seven scoreless innings for St. Louis, which has won four straight.
Rasmus, who also had a run-scoring groundout during the second inning, was crossing the plate after his homer as the argument was ongoing.
``I didn't think his beef was with me, you know,' Rasmus said. ``I understand. I know the game is tough. Maybe he's falling on some hard times. Just mad at the world or whatever it may be. Some things didn't go his way. I just hit the ball, run around, touch the plate, and take my happy self back to the dugout.'
Westbrook (7-4) struck out seven and walked three in his first victory since June 7, at Houston. The right-hander was 0-1 with a 6.61 ERA in his previous three starts.
Tampa Bay scored three times in the eighth. Evan Longoria had a run-scoring double and Matt Joyce added a two-run homer against Lance Lynn. Longoria has driven in 14 runs over his last seven games.
Fernando Salas pitched the ninth for his 14th save.
The Cardinals grabbed a 2-0 lead against Wade Davis (7-6) in the second inning. Yadier Molina hit an RBI single to snap an 0-for-13 slide.
Davis allowed six hits in seven innings. He had won his previous three starts.
The Cardinals are playing just their second-ever road series against Tampa Bay. St. Louis swept the previous three-game set at Tropicana Field in June 2005.
NOTES: Maddon spent most of Thursday's day off on his couch. ``From 11:30 (a.m.) to 1 o'clock in the morning ... that is not an exaggeration,' Maddon said. ``I felt like I'd been in a fight, so I just decided to lay down. I watched every game that was on, and then I finished up with some Dave Chappelle movies. Hysterical.' ... Cardinals manager Tony La Russa, a native of nearby Tampa, expects to have more than 50 family members and friends in attendance at each game in the three-game series.
The Associated Press News Service
The Associated Press
All Rights Reserved