A.J. Ellis sighed as he recalled how he was thrown out of a game for the first time in his career.
"Just an accumulation," he said. "Reached a boiling point."
The catcher struck out three times Friday before he was ejected by home plate umpire Mike Winters in the seventh inning of a 3-0 defeat to the St. Louis Cardinals at Busch Stadium.
Ellis said his primary source of frustration was Winters' strike zone, which he described as inconsistent.
"I had a rough game," Ellis said. "Mike had a rough game."
Ellis said he was pushed over the edge when he perceived Winters to be criticizing how he was catching the ball.
When reliever J.P. Howell walked Matt Carpenter in the seventh inning, Ellis said he was told by Winters, "The presentation was poor."
Ellis said he responded, "It doesn't matter. It matters if it comes through the zone or not."
Ellis recalled Winters telling him, "Your presentation was poor."
"He just repeated himself," Ellis said.
Moments later, Ellis was out of the game.
Winters declined to speak after the game, but he said through a Cardinals official that he and Ellis disagreed about ball and strike calls.
"The rest of it stays private," Winters said through the official.
Ellis said he felt as if Winters was blaming him for certain calls.
"It's almost like admitting it was a strike and then putting the onus on me," he said.
Ellis is aware that advanced metrics rate indicate he is well below average at framing pitches — the technique of turning borderline pitches into called strikes. The team's primary catcher for the last three seasons, Ellis has spent most of this season backing up Yasmani Grandal, who excels at pitch framing. Grandal is currently on the seven-day concussion disabled list.
"People on blogs and websites can critique my framing, but I'm not going to take it from an umpire because it's not their job to do that," he said. "It's their job to call balls and strikes based on what comes through a strike zone."
Manager Don Mattingly defended his catcher.
"I don't think you want the umpires telling your catcher how he should catch it," Mattingly said.
Mattingly was ejected in the top half of the same inning after Andre Ethier was called out on strikes.
Regardless of how the game was called, Mattingly acknowledged the Dodgers didn't do enough to win, as they were shut out on the road for the fourth consecutive time.
The Dodgers were limited to five hits over the first seven innings by Cardinals starter John Lackey. They got only one hit over the last two innings, a two-out double by Jimmy Rollins in eighth.
"We weren't able to get a lot of guys out there," Mattingly said. "When we had them out there, we weren't really able to do enough."
While the Dodgers won four of six games in a recent homestand, Mattingly admitted his team's offense looked as if it had slowed down in recent weeks.
"I think we've definitely gotten where we've had some games where we had more trouble scoring, it seems like," Mattingly said. "I don't know if we've gotten spoiled from early on, where we put up runs, runs, runs. I don't think any of us expected that to continue, but I do think we've had a little bit of a lull scoring runs."
Mattingly said injuries have deprived the Dodgers of some of their flexibility. With left-handed-hitting left fielder Carl Crawford on the disabled list, for example, the Dodges have often started a right-handed-hitting outfielder such as Alex Guerrero or Scott Van Slyke on days they have faced a right-handed pitcher.
And with Grandal sidelined for the last week, Ellis went from rarely playing to starting five of the last six games. Ellis is batting .137.
"Just a little bit of rust," Mattingly said.
For his part, Ellis said he feels better at the plate than his numbers indicate.
"I feel good about my at-bats, especially the last week to 10 days or so," he said.
Grandal is eligible to be activated Saturday.