Acta confronts Dukes in Nats' dugout

Acta confronts Dukes in dugout

WASHINGTON -- In the top of the ninth inning of Tuesday's game between the Nationals and Pirates, TV cameras showed Nationals manager Manny Acta dressing down outfielder Elijah Dukes in the dugout.

The confrontation came a few minutes after Lastings Milledge hit a two-run homer, scoring Dukes ahead of him. According to baseball sources, Acta was not angry with Dukes for showboating with Milledge near home plate after the home run. There was a miscommunication in the dugout. Dukes thought that Acta didn't want to shake his hand.

After Nationals closer Jon Rauch was able to record the final out of the game, Dukes refused to shake Acta's hand. A few minutes later, Acta, Dukes and general manager Jim Bowden had a closed-door meeting and settled the issue.

Acta did not return a phone message, while Dukes and Bowden weren't available for comment.

It's the third time in less than a week that Acta, who is usually a patient man, has displayed his emotions with a player in public. Last Friday against the Giants at Nationals Park, Acta came out of the dugout and spoke heatedly with right-hander Jason Bergmann after the latter had walked opposing pitcher Tim Lincecum with the bases loaded.

A few minutes later, Bergmann threw a slider up in the zone and Jose Castillo deposited it over the right-center-field wall for a three-run homer. After the inning ended, Acta showed his emotions again. He was upset that catcher Jesus Flores called that particular pitch against Castillo, and told the catcher so in the dugout. Acta believed Bergmann should have used his curveball, which is his best pitch.

Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.