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Lopez, Wright tossed for arguing pair of balk calls

Lopez, Wright tossed for arguing pair of balk calls

Lopez, Wright tossed for arguing pair of balk calls

DENVER -- Rockies relief pitcher Wilton Lopez was called for consecutive balks, the second letting the tying run score in the seventh inning of Thursday afternoon's 5-4 loss to the Nationals.

After the inning, Lopez and Rockies pitching coach Jim Wright earned ejections.

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Even with the game in the books, there was disagreement over how many balks should have been called.

The Rockies led 3-2 and Nationals shortstop Ian Desmond was at second base with two outs when the balk calls occurred, both with Steve Lombardozzi batting. Second-base umpire Bob Davidson, whose penchant for the call has earned him the nickname "Balkin' Bob," called the first, and third-base umpire Jim Reynolds called the second.

After the game, the crew explained to a pool reporter that Lopez started and stopped with his throwing hand on his way to reaching into the glove while in the stretch on both occasions.

Lopez and Wright had left the park before reporters could talk to them, but Rockies manager Walt Weiss said the first call might have been legitimate.

"You could say the first one was a balk. The second one, I'm not too sure," Weiss said. "I'm not sure if it was just a part of his pre-pitch routine or if they interpreted it as he started and stopped."

Some hesitation in the motion is allowed if it is considered part of a pitcher's normal routine. It was possible that in both cases, Lopez began reaching into his glove before catcher Wilin Rosario was through giving his series of signs.

Nationals manager Davey Johnson thought Lopez wasn't penalized enough for his motions on the mound.

"He actually did it three times, they only called it twice -- kept going toward his glove and then he would stop," Johnson said. "But you can't be moving toward your glove and stop. ... It was very obvious."

In any case, Lopez was upset, and expressed it by yelling something at first-base umpire John Hirschbeck after covering first base when the Rockies retired Lombardozzi. The ejection came immediately.

Weiss came out of the dugout to receive an explanation. The umpires explained to the pool reporter that during the break between innings, Reynolds spotted Wright at the top step of the dugout giving the "crazy" signal -- a circular motion with his index finger by his ear -- and ejected him.

Thomas Harding is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Hardball in the Rockies, and follow him on Twitter @harding_at_mlb. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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