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Maddon convinced Orioles intentionally plunked Bartlett

ST. PETERSBURG — SS Jason Bartlett became the center of attention in back-to-back innings Sunday.

In the seventh, Bartlett capped his 4-for-4 day by hitting his first home run since Aug. 27, 2007. He laughed as teammates jokingly gave him the silent treatment in the dugout, turning their backs before mobbing him.

One inning later, the sure-handed shortstop was hit by a pitch, and manager Joe Maddon spoke up, saying he believed Baltimore's third plunking of the game was intentional.

"I really don't know why they did it, but it was on purpose," Maddon said. "To verify that, all of their extra players came out and sat on the rail for the ninth inning, guys we had not seen for the entire series. They were expecting something to happen because of what they began."

Nothing did happen, as RHP Jason Hammel retired the Orioles in order in the ninth. When asked if he talked to his team about not retaliating, Maddon said, "That's always in-house; I'm just disappointed they (the Orioles) chose to do that."

Bartlett said little about it afterward.

"I don't know," he said when asked if he thought the plunking was on purpose. "I'm not even going to go into that. It happened, and to me, it's the past."

ROCCO ON A ROLL: DH Rocco Baldelli, who had his first career walkoff hit Saturday, went 3-for-3 with two more doubles down the leftfield line Sunday. In back-to-back games, Baldelli is 5-for-6 with three RBIs and three runs, having reached base in nine of 10 plate appearances. Maddon said Baldelli is getting "more and more comfortable" since he came back after a 15-month absence due a rare muscle fatigue disorder.

UPTON OK: CF B.J. Upton left after the sixth inning, when he was hit in the right ankle with a pitch, but said he was fine. Maddon said he'll be ready for Tuesday's series opener against the Yankees. Ben Zobrist took his spot in center and did his best Upton impression, charging a Jay Payton liner before making a diving catch. Joked Zobrist: "Maybe he can show me how to throw a guy out at home, too."

Upton became the second player in club history to reach 40 steals. Carl Crawford has done it five times. "It's what I expect out of myself," Upton said. "I had a little slow year last year, only 22 (stolen bases). I kind of wanted to come back and put up a decent number. But for the most part I just want to get into scoring position for the guys behind me."

NO NAVARRO: Maddon said he wanted to give C Dioner Navarro the day off because the All-Star felt some soreness after Saturday's game, his first start in four days (hamstring soreness). It appears likely he won't return behind the plate until Wednesday, as Maddon said he's leaning toward starting backup Shawn Riggans, who has been praised for how he and Tuesday's starter Matt Garza work together.

MISCELLANY: The Rays acquired INF Jorge Velandia (from Cleveland) and C Michel Hernandez (from Pittsburgh) for Durham's postseason roster for cash considerations. … The Rays are 18-1 at home in front of 30,000 or more. … Former Gators forward and St. Petersburg product Marreese Speights, the first-round pick of the 76ers, threw out the ceremonial first pitch.

Maddon convinced Orioles intentionally plunked Bartlett 08/31/08 [Last modified: Tuesday, September 2, 2008 9:46am]
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