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Monday, April 19, 1999 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Brawlgame Heats Up For Mariners, Angels

Seattle Times Staff Reporter

ANAHEIM, Calif. - What appeared to be a hockey-style brawl between the Mariners and Angels - possibly to mark Wayne Gretzky's retirement - was really part of a baseball ritual.

It is an angry waltz in which two maddened teams threaten mutual mayhem over hit batsmen on one side, then finally upon the other, in this case Seattle's version of the Great One, Ken Griffey Jr.

The dance steps involved further retaliation and, ultimately, efforts to rearrange faces.

This particular culmination of fulmination interrupted play and a parade of five home runs in the fourth inning, but not Seattle's progress to an 8-5 victory on long balls from Domingo Cedeno, Jay Buhner and Butch Huskey, two run-scoring doubles by Edgar Martinez and solid relief from, in reverse order, Jose Mesa, Jose Paniagua and winning pitcher Ken Cloude.

The brouhaha may have been seeded in spring training when Paniagua hit Anaheim's Phil Nevin, since dealt to San Diego, after Orlando Palmeiro stole a meaningless late-game base.

Friday, the Angels accused Jamie Moyer of intentionally hitting Palmeiro and Troy Glaus, talk that Moyer called "ridiculous."

Seattle continued to pitch Glaus tight Saturday, and Brett Hinchliffe, who celebrated his first big-league start and ejection yesterday, hit him in the first inning, prompting the Angel third baseman to fire down his bat and mutter his way to first base.

Angel starter Steve Sparks, having allowed Cedeno's game-tying two-run homer earlier in the third, nailed Griffey, who righted himself and pointed his bat at Angel Manager Terry Collins in the home dugout.

And there was history to this, too.

Collins reportedly had told Griffey before Saturday's game that he would bear the brunt if the Mariners hit any more Angels. Thus, yesterday's drilling and counter-drilling.

"I just said to him, `You happy now?' " Griffey said of his words to Collins. "You know me, I don't forget. We aren't going to get in a fight. I don't play dirty. I don't charge the mound. But if I get any chance to do something, drive in a run, I'll do it."

From here, Seattle sparked. Martinez doubled to bring Griffey home, and Buhner bopped a knuckleless knuckler for a two-run homer and a 5-2 lead.

"After Moyer hit their guys Friday, the Angels came back with a grand slam," Buhner said. "When they hit Junior, it lit a fire under us. It was what this team needed."

But, the outfielder noted, you shouldn't hit the big-name guys. "You've got to protect your superstars," Buhner said. Griffey agreed, saying, "You hit me and you know there will be response, and it was taken care of."

It took another inning, coming after Glaus led the fourth with a homer, making it 5-3. Hinchliffe then nailed Todd Greene in the left elbow.

Greene took off for the mound like Jaromir Jagr on a breakaway, and after missing a couple of haymaker bids at Hinchliffe went down under a David Segui tackle.

Even Manager Lou Piniella was willing to intimate it was done with forethought, if not malice, saying, "When Junior gets hit, our pitchers know what to do. I don't have to get involved."

But Hinchliffe deflected the idea of standing up for his center fielder. He denied playing the role of an NHL enforcer to Griffey like Gretzky's teammates once did for him.

"It was not intentional," the pitcher said of his action. "It was coincidental coming after the homer. We pitch them soft away. I came in on him hard and K'd him the first time, and I was trying that again when the pitch got away."

That was the kid's story and he was sticking to it.

However, that did not stop him from fending off Greene and effectively counter-punching, which may have had something to do with Segui being wrapped around the Angel's waist as benches and bullpens emptied onto a pile of players between the mound and first base.

"I was surprised and didn't get as good a jump as I should to protect my pitcher," Segui said. "The important thing is to stay away from the bottom of the pile. That's where the feet are."

Still, someone kicked him in the face.

"I rushed him out of instinct," Greene said. "Everything that happened over the last three days just built up."

Angel pitcher Tim Belcher, who was in the pile, got ejected along with Hinchliffe and Greene.

Copyright (c) 1999 Seattle Times Company, All Rights Reserved.

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