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Ugly moment mars Nationals' victory

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Angered by a strikeout and an ejection,
Washington Nationals outfielder Marlon Byrd began running toward
the umpire responsible for both calls. Another umpire, Joe
Brinkman, stepped in the way and put out an arm, and Byrd knocked
him to the ground.

Brinkman was left with a red scrape on his forehead and a bump
on his arm, and the ugly moment marred what otherwise should have
been a very satisfying evening for the Nationals, who beat the
Florida Marlins 7-3 Tuesday.

"I thought I could get in front of him. He was running pretty
hard," Brinkman said. "Once I couldn't get in front of him, I put
my arm out. He hit my arm and just spun me around and flipped me
and I ended up on the ground. That's all that happened."

Asked if he thought it was intentional, Brinkman said: "I
really don't know. He was just running, and I was just thinking I
could get in front of him, so I don't know what the intent was."

Several Nationals players and manager Frank Robinson ran over
toward Miller, and eventually Byrd walked off the field.

"I was looking away, talking to somebody, when I looked around,
and Brinkman was on the ground for a 10-count. Then I saw Marlon
and thought, 'Oh, no," Robinson said. "So I can't be a witness
for the defense."

Byrd, an all-state football player for his Georgia high school,
was called out on strikes to end the sixth. It was a full count,
and Byrd checked his swing. Marlins catcher Paul Lo Duca appealed
to first-base umpire Miller, who ruled Byrd went around. Byrd,
thinking he had drawn a walk, was about halfway to first when he
realized Miller had called him out. Byrd began arguing with Miller,
and Nationals first-base coach Don Buford stepped between them.

As the Nationals took the field for the top of the seventh, Byrd
continued arguing on his way to left, and Miller ejected him.

Byrd -- an all-state high school football player in Georgia --
then headed toward Miller, and second-base umpire Brinkman tried to
intervene. The 61-year-old Brinkman was attended to by a Washington
trainer on the field, and team doctor Bruce Thomas examined him
after the game.

"I'm going to talk about the win, and that's it," Byrd said.
Asked why he wouldn't talk about what happened, Byrd responded:
"Didn't you hear me? I am only going to talk about the win."

Putting that run-in aside, it was a victory for the Nationals to
savor, a rare big-margin triumph built on more runs than usual and
terrific bullpen work from unexpected sources. The offensive
highlights were Vinny Castilla's three-run double, Nick Johnson's
two RBI singles, and slumping Cristian Guzman's two hits and an
RBI.

The Nationals have won six of seven games -- but this was the
first victory in that stretch by more than two runs.

Sun-woo Kim (1-0), in just his second appearance of the season,
came in for struggling starter Tomo Ohka with two on and one out in
the fourth inning of a 3-3 ballgame and shut down Florida.

Kim allowed three hits and a walk over 3 1/3 innings. He was
followed by C.J. Nitkowski, who went 1 1/3 hitless innings. Gary
Majewski got the final three outs.

"What I take away from that win is Sunny Kim coming in and
holding them down for us," said Jamey Carroll, who was 2-for-4
with three runs scored, including one after a head's-up play, going
from second to third on a flyout. He eventually came around on one
of Johnson's hits for the go-ahead run in the fifth.

"You take any kind of win you can get, but when you have a
little cushion and get those runs at the end, it makes you sleep a
little bit better," Carroll said.

Washington tacked on one run in the seventh and two in the
eighth off relievers. They scored three off Marlins starter Al
Leiter (2-6) in the first on Castilla's big hit after Leiter
plunked two batters.

Leiter gave up four runs on six hits and three walks over five
innings. In his last six starts, the veteran left-hander is 1-4
with a 7.90 ERA.

"I'd say that you get an ERA like that, you're putting too many
runners on," Marlins manager Jack McKeon said.

His club has lost nine of 11 games, dropping to third place in
the NL East behind Atlanta and Washington. Florida left 14 runners
on base.

"This is a good ballclub, and we can't just keep going every
night, getting so many opportunities and not cashing in," McKeon
said. "I feel that we've got to dig down, look in the mirror and
say, 'Hey, we've got to do something about it."

Ohka allowed one run in each of the first three innings, on
Miguel Cabrera's RBI double in the first, Juan Pierre's RBI double
in the second and Juan Encarnacion's eighth homer of the season
leading off the third.

When Ohka gave up a single and a walk in the fourth, Robinson
came out to make a change. Ohka kept his back to the dugout and
clutched the ball as Robinson made the slow walk to the mound. It
appeared as though Robinson had to grab the ball from the
right-hander -- an awkward exchange similar to one between the
manager and starter Zach Day last month.

Game notes
Washington's bullpen has 13 wins, second in the majors to
San Diego's 15. ... Atlanta leads Washington by half a game, and
Florida by one game.