Lilly, Gibbons tangle in Jays loss

Toronto Blue Jays pitcher Ted Lilly and manager John Gibbons exchanged words and reportedly punches in Monday's 12-10 loss to the Oakland Athletics.

First, Ted Lilly got into trouble on the mound. Then, he got into trouble with manager John Gibbons.

Lilly and Gibbons exchanged heated words — and reportedly punches — in the third inning of Monday's 12-10 loss to the Oakland Athletics before an equally disgruntled crowd of 28,280 at the Rogers Centre.

"No, nobody was hit," Gibbons said. "We hashed it out [and] everything is fine now."

"It was not physical," Lilly said. "I said something I shouldn't have said."

Lilly squandered an 8-0 lead by giving up seven runs in the third, then began arguing with Gibbons when removed from the game to try and stop the bleeding.

"Sometimes you have to put a tourniquet on it," Gibbons said. "It just got away from us.

"I would have loved to leave him in there. But he wasn't pitching well enough."

"He didn't like the way I was going about my pitching," Lilly said. "And neither did I.

"At the time, I was already upset enough with myself. I didn't handle it well.… I embarrassed the organization."

Although both men denied doing so, witnesses claimed they settled their differences by wrestling in the tunnel leading to the clubhouse before teammates and trainer George Poulis separated them.

"Luckily, nothing like that happened," Lilly said. "The rest of the guys made sure it didn't get out of control."

"It's over," Gibbons said. "He was out there competing.

"He thinks he should have been left in the game. I didn't think so."

Shades of Shea Hillenbrand

Gibbons has a penchant for clashing with his players: he challenged Shea Hillenbrand to a fight on July 19.

Hillenbrand irked Gibbons by writing on the clubhouse bulletin board that the "ship was sinking," supposedly in jest, and was subsequently traded to the San Francisco Giants.

"Stuff like that's been going on all season over there," Hillenbrand said upon hearing of Lilly's flareup.

"I had my issues with the manager. They said I was the cancer of the team and things are still happening, so I don't know how you can make that assumption or that statement."

"They were two very different situations," Blue Jays president Paul Godfrey said of the Hillenbrand and Lilly confrontations.

"I don't see any need for discipline. Ted and the manager worked it out between them."

Former Blue Jay Bobby Kielty paced the Athletics (71-54) offensively with a home run and four runs batted in.

Milton Bradley and Jay Payton also homered, while Jason Kendall went 4-5 at the plate with two RBIs.

Eric Chavez and Frank Thomas drove inOakland's other runs.

Vernon Wells had four hits and drove in three runs in a losing cause for the Blue Jays (66-59), now a distant 10 games behind the front-running New York Yankees in the American League East Division.

"We are professionals, we have got to go out and play baseball," Wells said. "You cannot dwell on what happened in the third inning."

Lyle Overbay contributed a homer and three RBIs, while Alex Rios and Troy Glaus also homered.

Frank Catalanotto accounted forthe other RBI.

Lilly, a free agent at the end of the season, allowed seven runs and eight hits with one walk and three strikeouts over 2 1/3 innings.

"It's a situation where everyone loses," he said. "I want to pitch for these guys in the locker-room, this organization.

"Who knows how long I'm going to be here? Until the end of the month, maybe longer."

Oakland starter Dan Haren fared little better, permitting nine runs and 11 hits with two walks and four strikeouts over 5 2/3 innings pitched.

Even so, Haren (12-9) hung around long enough to earn the win and remains unbeaten since July 21.

"It's amazing how that stuff happens," he said. "Momentum is an incredible thing."

Justin Duchscherer finished up for his fourth save.

Bats provide early punch

Rios opened the scoring with his 16th home run of the season, a solo shot to left field off Haren in the bottom of the first.

Two batters later, Glaus clubbed a two-run blast to left to make it 3-0.

The Blue Jays surged ahead 8-0 in the second, as Catalanotto and Wells stroked RBI singles and Overbay cleared the bases with a three-run double.

But the Athletics answered with seven runs in the top of the third.

Chavez drew a leadoff walk from Lilly and Mark Ellis singled to bring up Kendall, who hit a two-run double.

Kielty cranked Lilly's next offering over the wall for his sixth homer and Bradley followed with a solo homer, his ninth.

After Thomas and Payton singled, Gibbons replaced Lilly with reliever Jason Frasor, who surrendered a run on a wild pitch and another on Chavez's RBI double.

Kielty keyed a four-run rally in the sixth with a two-run double off reliever Brandon League (0-1).

Bradley and Thomas delivered the other runs on groundouts.

Toronto trimmed it to 11-10 in the bottom of the inning when Wells doubled in Rios and Catalanotto, who were aboard on walks.

But Payton's 10th homer, a solo shot to left off reliever Jeremy Accardo in the ninth, provided the Athletics with a cushion.

With files from the Canadian Press