Usually the umpires are the ones who try to keep the peace when tempers heat up on the baseball diamond.
But during Tuesday afternoon's game between Pittsburgh and St. Louis at PNC Park, home plate umpire Eric Cooper had to be restrained by Pirates catcher Russell Martin from angrily approaching pitcher A.J. Burnett on the mound.
It all started when the Cardinals' John Jay appeared to have struck out swinging as the ball hit his foot. But Cooper thought the ball hit the dirt and ruled it a dropped third strike. Jay ran to first by rule and advanced all the way to second as Burnett, Martin and Pirates Manager Clint Hurdle engaged in an animated argument with Cooper.
On the very next pitch, to Matt Holliday, Burnett raised his hands in protest, thinking he had hit the outside corner on what Cooper called a ball. The umpire apparently had enough -- he ripped off his face mask and marched toward the mound while yelling and gesturing.
In an odd sight, Martin had to step in front of the umpire to prevent him from getting any closer to Burnett.
It was a bizarre turn of events, but things turned out well for the Pirates, who went on to sweep a double header to take a 1 1/2 game lead on the Cardinals in the National League Central.