WASHINGTON — NL MVP front-runner Bryce Harper and teammate Jonathan Papelbon got into a fight during Sunday's game, when a Nationals season that had spiraled out of control on the field did so in the dugout.
After a flyout in the eighth inning of what became a 12-5 loss to the Phillies, Harper headed to the dugout, where he and Papelbon, the team's closer, exchanged words. The argument escalated, and Papelbon reached out with his left hand and grabbed Harper by the throat.
Papelbon shoved the outfielder toward the bench with both hands before teammates pulled them apart.
"I mean, he apologized, so, whatever," Harper said with a shrug afterward. "I really don't care."
Asked whether he had tangled with a teammate before, Harper responded: "Usually fighting the other team."
Papelbon said: "I'm in the wrong there. … For me, I can't allow that to happen in the middle of a game. You can handle that after the games or allow the manager to handle that. So in that light of it, I'm wrong."
Nationals manager Matt Williams, whose team was eliminated from playoff contention Saturday, delivered terse answers during a briefer-than-usual postgame news conference.
"Certainly there's a lot of testosterone flowing among young men competing. What I can tell you is this: This is a family issue and we'll deal with it that way," Williams said. "There was an altercation in the dugout, and we'll leave it at that."
ANGELS LOSE CLOSER: RHP Huston Street was scheduled to have an MRI exam one day after leaving his outing with what appeared to be a serious groin injury.
SCHILLING'S RETURN: Curt Schilling will return to ESPN and be in the studio for Baseball Tonight after coverage of the AL wild-card game. Schilling was benched this month in the wake of an anti-Muslim tweet he made.
NEAR MISS: A hard foul ball at Marlins Park struck a woman's hand as she was feeding her toddler. The woman, Herbie Ortiz of Lake Worth, got an ice pack from paramedics but needed no further medical attention. Ortiz was feeding 17-month-old son Jose when Miami's Dee Gordon lined a foul over the dugout in the third inning.