BOSTON - Red Sox players have made no secret of their problem with Alex Rodriguez's being allowed to play as he appeals his 211-game suspension.
On Sunday night, Ryan Dempster did something about it.
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The Boston starter nearly touched off a brawl in the second inning of the Yankees' 9-6 victory when his 3-and-0 fastball hit Rodriguez in the left elbow and ricocheted into his left side, which quickly led to Joe Girardi's theatrical ejection after both dugouts were warned.
Though pleased with the victory and the fact that Rodriguez exacted a bit of revenge with a sixth-inning homer off Dempster, Girardi had not simmered down much afterward. "He's hit six guys the last 320 innings. He doesn't hit people," said Girardi, who was ejected by plate umpire Brian O'Nora. "Everyone knows it was intentional and I don't know why he's left in the game. That was wrong. You have your head in the sand with the comments that came from the other side not to know that something might be up. I thought it was handled very poorly."
Girardi's hope is that Dempster, who denied intending to hit A-Rod, will miss at least one start in a suspension expected to be handed down by MLB. "It has to cost him something," he said.
"I was just trying to pitch inside," said Dempster, who blew a 6-3 lead.
Four Yankees -- and no Red Sox -- were hit by pitches.
"I wish he had to hit is what I wish," Girardi said of Dempster.
He added of players across baseball who are upset that Rodriguez is playing: "You can't just start taking potshots because you disagree with the way the system is set up. You voted as players . . . You can't take the law into your own hands."
With the crowd in a full-throated chant of "You're a cheater!" Dempster threw his first pitch behind Rodriguez. After two more inside pitches, he drilled him.
O'Nora immediately issued an emphatic warning to both teams, sending an enraged Girardi out of the Yankees' dugout in a George Brett Pine Tar Game charge. Girardi, channeling a rare vitriol reminiscent of the best of Billy Martin, Earl Weaver and Bobby Cox, was ejected for the 23rd time in his career. After spiking his hat, he gesticulated wildly with his right arm and nearly connected, albeit accidentally, with O'Nora's jaw. Toward the end of that rant, Girardi took a step toward the mound and screamed an expletive-laden ad hominem at Dempster.
Ultimately, you had this added layer to a story that has become a bottomless reservoir of the bizarre. A day after one of Rodriguez's attorneys, Joe Tacopina, accused the Yankees of not having his back, there was Girardi sprinting from the dugout, defending him to the hilt.
"You don't allow people to be thrown at," Girardi said. "You can't do that . . . We don't allow people just to get plunked."
A-Rod led off a four-run sixth with a long homer to dead center that cut the Yankees' deficit to 6-4. After the homer, Rodriguez -- booed at a sustained pitch all series -- stomped on home plate, then jutted both arms skyward. "The ultimate payback," he said of the homer.
He called Dempster's actions "unprofessional and silly."
This being a story with too many layers to count, in the same postgame interview, A-Rod confirmed that he is in the process of filing a grievance against the team for its handling of him last October.
After Rodriguez's homer, Brett Gardner's three-run triple off lefty Drake Britton gave the Yankees a 7-6 lead. Mark Reynolds added a run-scoring single in the seventh and Chris Stewart had an RBI single in the ninth.
"I was pretty mad," said Gardner, among the first Yankees out of the dugout when the benches partially cleared in the second. "I thought [Dempster] should have been thrown out of the game."
Mariano Rivera, who had blown three consecutive saves for the first time in his career, pitched a scoreless ninth for his 36th save and first since Aug. 3.
CC Sabathia (11-10) struggled again, allowing six runs and seven hits in 51/3 innings. "I think Alex did the best retaliation by going deep," he said. "Not much more to say about that."
Rodriguez, who finds himself in a new controversy almost daily, went 3-for-4 with two RBIs and two runs. The Yankees outhit Boston 17-9, with Robinson Cano and Eduardo Nunez (who left the game with a tight right hamstring) also picking up three each and Gardner and Ichiro Suzuki adding two each.
With David Lennon
and Anthony Rieber