Washington Nationals have a brawl in Florida

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MIAMI GARDENS, FLA. – Nyjer Morgan and the rest of the Washington Nationals understood the first time Florida Marlins starting pitcher Chris Volstad hit him Wednesday night. Just baseball. Part of the game. They expected Morgan would be plunked one night after he bowled over and knocked out Florida catcher Brett Hayes. Morgan absorbed his beaning and walked to first base, mouth shut.

“I thought,” Morgan said after the game, “it was over after that.”

The Marlins, they said afterward, thought so, too. But the feud between the Marlins and the Nationals – which made a sidenote of Scott Olsen’s five-out, nine-run start and the Nationals’ 16-10 loss – would not end until Morgan ignited a bench-emptying ruckus and culminated his week-long heel-turn by walking off the field, shirt unbuttoned and hanging loose, alternately raising his fists over his head and beating his chest.

On Wednesday night, Morgan captured the spotlight and the venom of the 18,045 at Sun Life Stadium. His charging of Volstad led to the ejections of himself, Volstad, both managers and two relievers, including Nationals lefty Doug Slaten. After Volstad threw behind Morgan a second time, Morgan charged the mound and, as first baseman Gaby Sanchez clotheslined him, his teammates followed. Later, Slaten drilled Sanchez.

“We’ll protect Nyjer,” Manager Jim Riggleman said. “If anybody takes some liberties and does anything, then we’ll protect him. There will be no free shots, I can guarantee you that. Nobody’s going to throw at our guys without somebody getting thrown at.”

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