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Baseball

Cubs lose, fight each other

CHICAGO — It has come to this with the Cubs: Unable to beat other teams, they have started beating on each other. Unable to settle things in private meetings, they have taken to public airwaves.

Frustration, then futility and finally fisticuffs.

In the midst of losing their fifth straight game and 11th in the last 15 — 8-5 to Atlanta on Friday at Wrigley Field — batterymates Carlos Zambrano and Michael Barrett tussled in the dugout and then apparently had an all-out set-to in the clubhouse.

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It left Barrett in the hospital with a badly bruised lip, Zambrano alone to celebrate his 26th birthday and teammates wondering what happened.

While manager Lou Piniella pledged there would be disciplinary action after he meets with both players before today’s game, several teammates said they were "embarrassed" by this season spiraling into insignificance.

"We’re not putting everything together now and that (fight) happens," said Alfonso Soriano, the team’s highest-paid player. "So I’m embarrassed for everybody here because we’re supposed to be like a family and that’s not supposed to happen."

Of course the team wasn’t supposed to be 22-30 at this point of the season, one marred by baserunning blunders, bad fielding, untimely hitting and inept relief pitching.

Sheffield, Bard suspended

NEW YORK — Detroit designated hitter Gary Sheffield and San Diego catcher Josh Bard were suspended for three games each by the commissioner’s office Friday for confrontations with umpires the previous night.

Both players filed appeals, meaning they cannot be penalized until after hearings and decisions on the appeals.

Sheffield was penalized for "aggressive actions directed at umpire Greg Gibson" at Cleveland, according to Bob Watson, baseball’s vice president for discipline. Gibson ejected Sheffield in the fifth inning after the slugger argued a strike call, then broke his bat on a groundout and threw away the piece of wood still in his hands.

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Bard was suspended for "aggressive actions, including making contact with umpire Ed Rapuano" at Pittsburgh.

Bard hit an 11th-inning drive that appeared to reach the right-field seats for his second homer of the game. Bard took his home run trot and put his catching gear back on, only to have Joe West’s umpiring crew reverse the call after Pirates manager Jim Tracy successfully argued the drive struck a thin metal railing above the right-field wall and did not leave the park.

The reversal changing it to a double caused Bard to race off the bench and start yelling at the umpires.

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