When Reds manager Bob Boone halted Friday's game to discuss an issue with first-base umpire Tim McClelland, Cubs manager Don Baylor said Boone's motives were clear.
"You have to find something to distract a pitcher who's dominating you," Baylor said.
Right-hander Matt Clement continued to dominate Cincinnati in the Cubs' 5-2 victory at Wrigley Field. He fired seven shutout innings and tied his career high with 12 strikeouts.
He had set his previous mark six days earlier.
"His confidence should be at an all-time high," Baylor said.
Clement was cruising in the fourth, having retired nine of his last 10 batters, when Boone approached McClelland for an animated discussion.
"He was spitting on his fingers and not wiping them off and that's illegal," Boone said. "I brought it to Tim's attention and he said it was OK during cold weather, that it has always been that way. He's wrong."
Boone read from the rulebook in his office and pointed to rule 8:02(3): The pitcher cannot expectorate on the ball, hand or glove.
"Very plain right there," Boone said.
Baylor saw it differently.
"He was doing everything legal," he said. "He goes to his mouth a lot, but he's always off the dirt. It was more of a distraction that anything, but Matt was not going to be intimidated.
"The home-plate umpire [Jim Wolf] knew exactly what was going on. Tim McClelland also."
Clement, who gave up just four hits, seemed bemused by the whole thing.
"The inning before the umpire had told me to make sure I wipe my hand after I go to my mouth," he said. "That's something I've been doing since I was in rookie league.
"I'm not trying to throw a spitball to try to make the ball move more. Usually I'm trying to tame some of my movement. I don't know what the argument was and I really don't care. I just had to keep my focus."
The Cubs gave Clement all the runs he needed in the first. After Delino DeShields' leadoff single and Sammy Sosa's one-out walk, Fred McGriff hit a tapper back to pitcher Joey Hamilton.
Hamilton bobbled the ball before throwing wildly to first, drawing a double-error and allowing two runs to score.
Roosevelt Brown, subbing for the injured Moises Alou, followed with a two-run homer that soared onto Sheffield Ave. despite the 16-m.p.h wind that knocked other balls down.
"I don't worry about the wind," Brown said. "If you watch [batting practice] every day [you would see] . . . the wind is not going to stop me from hitting a home run."
Alou was scratched from the lineup after complaining of lower back pain. Baylor attributed it to Alou's diving attempt to snare a line drive Wednesday on Montreal's artificial surface.
"Sitting around after the game, it stiffened up on him," Baylor said. "He came in [Friday] and it took him forever to put his [uniform] on. He can't swing the bat without discomfort."
Baylor said Alou would be held out of the lineup until at least Tuesday.Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times