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Benches clear after Victorino is plunked

SAN FRANCISCO -- This could make for a fun October.

The Phillies and Giants turned up the heat in their rapidly escalating rivalry in the sixth inning Friday night at AT&T Park. The Phillies were on their way to an easy 9-2 victory, when Giants pitcher Ramon Ramirez drilled Phillies center fielder Shane Victorino in his back with a first-pitch fastball to load the bases with two outs.

Victorino flipped his bat and took a few steps toward the mound. Ramirez chucked his glove, waiting for Victorino to make a move.

Guess what happened next?

"Vic almost has to go," Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said, "unless he wants his teammates to call him chicken."

Benches cleared and three players were ejected, although it was unclear if any punches were thrown.

It seemed like these teams had been building to a moment like this, which could make things interesting if they have a postseason rematch. The Giants beat the favored Phillies in the 2010 National League Championship Series. Benches cleared briefly in Game 6 at Citizens Bank Park when Giants left-hander Jonathan Sanchez hit Phillies second baseman Chase Utley with a pitch. The Giants then took two of three from the Phillies late last month in Philadelphia. Manuel ruffled some feathers afterward when he said Giants pitchers Tim Lincecum and Matt Cain were "good, not great."

The Phillies shut out the Giants in Thursday's series opener, 3-0, before pounding Sanchez and Ramirez on Friday. Victorino hit a home run to left field against Sanchez in the fourth inning to tie the game, 1-1. Utley followed with a single. He moved from first to third on a single from Hunter Pence and scored on Raul Ibanez's fielder's choice to make it 2-1. John Mayberry Jr. followed with a two-run home run to left field to make it 4-1.

Jimmy Rollins walked, stole second and scored on Placido Polanco's single to right in the fifth to make it 5-1. It was Rollins' first stolen base of the night. His second came with a six-run lead in the sixth, which might have irked Ramirez and the Giants.

"I wouldn't have done it," Giants right fielder Carlos Beltran said.

The Phillies weren't buying that as the impetus for Ramirez's purpose pitch.

"I think us hitting them upset him," Manuel said. "I think he was getting hit, he was mad and he was going to plunk somebody. He was going to send a message."

Everybody in the Phillies clubhouse believes Ramirez intentionally threw at Victorino. The Giants did not exactly dispute that, although Giants catcher Eli Whiteside said he called for a pitch inside that was "a little too inside."

Oh, really?

Home-plate umpire Mike Muchlinski quickly moved in front of Victorino and Whiteside moved behind Muchlinski, hopping up and down like a fighter in the ring. The moment Whiteside noticed Polanco coming toward home plate from first base, he tossed his glove and tried to tackle him at the knees. Everything got chaotic from there.

"I had no intentions of charging the mound and escalating the fight for no reason," Victorino said. "It was the heat of the moment and I just wanted to step forward and be like, 'What was the purpose?' ... Obviously, Eli, I guess from looking at his reaction, thought I was going to go and he started jumping around. Obviously, Polanco came in and he tackled Polanco. I think everything escalated from there."

"He didn't tackle me," Polanco added from behind a group of reporters talking to Victorino.

Polanco and Whiteside were grappling when Phillies catcher Brian Schneider tried to pull Polanco away. But both fell in the process and ended up in the bottom of the pile. Victorino pushed away Muchlinski to get back into the fray, eventually being held back by Phillies hitting coach Greg Gross. But that did not last long. It appeared Giants third baseman Pablo Sandoval had Phillies catcher Carlos Ruiz in a choke hold. Victorino said he noticed Ruiz in trouble and dove back in, taking down Giants hitting coach Hensley Meulens in the process.

"I needed to go in and help him get away from everything," Victorino said.

The Phillies eventually cleared out Victorino from the pile with Manuel calming him down.

Victorino, Whiteside and Ramirez were ejected. Suspensions and fines could be coming.

Bad feelings after something like this? The Phillies say there aren't. Time will tell.

"We come out and play the same all the time, don't we?" Manuel said. "Those things happen. Tempers flare. Everything was cool. I've been in a whole lot of those."

"It was just a regular brawl," Polanco said. "It's not the first one and not the last."

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