CINCINNATI: The Cincinnati Reds and St. Louis Cardinals fight in the fourth inning over a run by Nick Castellanos of the Cincinnati Reds at Great American Ball Park on Saturday in Cincinnati, Ohio. - AFP

LOS ANGELES: Cincinnati's Nick Castellanos, irked after he took a pitch to the ribs, couldn't resist a post-run preen that sparked an extended scuffle in the Reds' 9-6 Major League Baseball victory over the St Louis Cardinals on Saturday. The Reds were up 6-2 when Cardinals pitcher Jake Woodford drilled Castellanos with a fastball to his midriff.

Castellanos showed his displeasure to Woodford and Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina by picking up the ball and offering it to the pitcher -- a gesture that put the Cards on edge. "I mean, look, I wore (92 mph) in the ribs," Castellanos said. "That don't exactly feel good, you know? All right, it's an accident. I take my stuff off. I even asked the pitcher if he wanted the ball back. I go to first and the only thing I'm thinking about is scoring."

Woodford said hitting Castellanos was unintentional, that his sinker got away from him. So he and his St Louis teammates were angered later in the inning when Woodford's wild pitch past Molina scored Castellanos from third base.

After sliding home headfirst, Castellanos stood and flexed his muscles over Woodford, who had raced in to cover home plate. "I dove," Castellanos said. "I felt him kind of land on my side. I saw the umpire said safe. I stood up and said, 'Let's (expletive) go' and I walked off."

That prompted Molina to shove Castellanos from behind, with both dugouts and bullpens soon emptying. "What I saw was a really aggressive, big base running play by Nick," Reds manager Dave Bell said. "I know he got up, he was excited. I saw him celebrate a little bit. Then I saw him walk off, walk away, and the next thing I knew, I saw a lot of people running on the field."

The drama was dying down when Cardinals reliever Jordan Hicks pushed Red shortstop Eugenio Suarez in the outfield. St Louis manager Mike Schildt was among those trying to restore order on the outfield grass, as Castellanos and Molina remained in the infield talking.

Castellanos declined to elaborate on the conversation. "That's between me and Yadi," he said. "Like I said, yo, that guy could have punched me in the face. I'd still ask him for a signed jersey. I've got nothing but respect for that cat, bro." Castellanos was the only player ejected from the game, with umpiring crew chief Jim Reynolds saying that after scoring he "re-engaged the pitcher in unnecessary fashion." - AFP