LOS ANGELES (AP) -Mark Sweeney's mental gaffe on the basepaths Tuesday night resulted in more than just a game-ending double play for the fading Los Angeles Dodgers in their loss to the Houston Astros.
It also touched off a groundswell of support Wednesday from his new teammates - and a firestorm of acrimony directed at reporters.
Luis Gonzalez, one of the most pleasant and cooperative individuals in any big league clubhouse, got visably upset five lockers away while listening to the tone of the questions directed at Sweeney and vented his anger at Dodgers media relations director Josh Rawich before grumbling to one reporter, ``I don't feel like talking today.''
Across the narrow clubhouse sat Brett Tomko, the losing pitcher on Tuesday, who agreed with Gonzalez that the subject shouldn't have carried over to the following day.
The issue might have died right there, had Sweeney given his side of the story after the game. Instead, he left the clubhouse while the media was in manager Grady Little's office.
``I'm not one that beats a dead horse. I mean, I made a mistake and we go on,'' said Sweeney, whose 157 career pinch-hits are the second-most in history behind Lenny Harris. ``I feel bad about it for all these guys in the room. There's nothing I can do about it now. The only thing I can do is go out there and try to make up for it - somehow.''
Sweeney had just singled home a run while pinch-hitting for reliever Eric Hull in the ninth inning of the Dodgers' 7-4 loss when the Astros changed pitchers. First base coach Mariano Duncan went over to Sweeney to make sure he was aware of the number of outs.
Brad Lidge relieved Mack McLemore and struck out Rafael Furcal. Juan Pierre was the next hitter and he fouled out to catcher Brad Ausmus. After the catch, Ausmus saw first baseman Lance Berkman jumping up and down waving his arms frantically for the ball with Sweeney nearly at second base. Ausmus completed the bizarre double play, leading Sweeney red-faced in his fifth game in Dodger blue - all as a pinch-hitter.
``It was one of those embarrassing moments, obviously,'' Sweeney said. ``The timing of it wasn't very good either. But I don't think the timing can be very good in a situation like that. I made a bad play. There's no excuse. I thought there was one out the whole time. But when the ball was hit, I thought there were two outs. It's not Mariano's fault. It's my fault. It wasn't something you can be proud of.''
A similar incident happened to Duncan while he was playing for the Phillies in the seventh inning of a game against the Florida Marlins. He was on first base when the Phillies' pitcher popped up a bunt to the catcher in foul territory. Then Lenny Dykstra hit a flyball to center field and Duncan took off for second, thinking there were two outs.
``I don't think anybody in the ballpark or anybody on our team feels worse than he does,'' Duncan said of Sweeney. ``He's a veteran guy who's played the game for so long, and he feels very embarrassed.
``My job is to let the runner at first base knows how many outs there are - and he knew how many outs there were. But sometimes stuff like that happens, and this could happen to anybody. We're going through a really tough time right now, and it seems like everything we're doing in the field is wrong. Hopefully, that kind of mistake doesn't happen again.''
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