SAN DIEGO - A wild-card race that already was wild turned absolutely bizarre last night, and Milton Bradley was right in the middle of it for the San Diego Padres.
Bradley was ejected and then hurt his right knee when Padres manager Bud Black spun him to the ground in an attempt to keep him from going after an umpire.
The Padres were livid, claiming that first base umpire Mike Winters baited Bradley, leading to a confrontation that overshadowed the surging Colorado Rockies' 7-3 win and an impressive three-game sweep of the wild card-leading Padres.
Bradley, whose volatile temper has overshadowed his talent during his career, called it "the most unprofessional and most ridiculous thing I've ever seen." Asked about his knee, Bradley said: "I've got to get an MRI. It's killing me, though."
The punchless Padres retained their half-game lead over Philadelphia, which lost, 5-3, to Washington, while the Rockies pulled within a game and a half by winning their season-high eighth straight.
San Diego stayed 2 1/2 games behind first-place Arizona in the National League West with seven to play. Colorado is four back of the Diamondbacks with six games remaining.
As Bradley walked to the plate in the eighth, umpire Brian Runge asked the player if he had flipped his bat in the ump's direction after taking a called third strike to end the fifth.
"I said, 'Are you kidding me? That's ridiculous,' " Bradley said. "He said, 'Well, it was reported to me by the other umpires that you threw your bat at me.' And I said, 'That's completely ridiculous. I've done a lot of things. I'm trying to turn it around. I would never harm anybody.' "
Bradley singled, then asked Winters if he told Runge he threw his bat. "He goes, 'Yeah, you did.' I go, 'Are you kidding me? That's completely ridiculous. If I strike out and the inning's over, why are you looking at me? Everything's always about me.' "
Then, a fan heckled Winters.
"I pointed to the guy in the crowd, affirming it," Bradley said.
Bradley said Winters responded with a string of expletives.
"That's when I went at him and he kicked me out," Bradley said.
First base coach Bobby Meacham began to restrain Bradley, and Black came running out. Bradley got away from Meacham, but Black grabbed him by the jersey.
Bradley was attempting to get free and, after a few seconds, Black spun Bradley around and the player collapsed. Bradley immediately grabbed his right knee.
Meacham defended Bradley.
"In 26 years of baseball, I can honestly say that's the most disconcerting conversation I have ever heard from an umpire to a player," Meacham said. "It was almost like he wanted to agitate the whole thing. He wanted to get Milton boiling for some reason. Milton, he held his cool. I was just appalled."