BOSTON -- The Red Sox take well to the moment.
The prized left fielder goes down, Josh Reddick fills in.
Three-fifths of the rotation gets hurt, they make do.
Marco Scutaro sees the need to jump on the back of a reliever who's close to 50 pounds heavier than him, and ...
"All of a sudden, I was right in the middle of the thing," the Red Sox's shortstop said. "I was just like hoping nobody would punch me."
Flexing their collective offensive muscle the last two nights with a combined 20 runs and eight homers against the last-place Orioles, the first-place Sox showed their strength more overtly in a 10-3 victory Friday.
Baltimore closer Kevin Gregg, pitching in a non-save situation, threw two consecutive inside pitches to David Ortiz in the eighth inning. Boston had already tacked on a run in the frame, their last of the game, and Ortiz had already homered for a second straight night, as part of an eight-run first inning.
When Gregg went back inside again -- for a third straight pitch -- Ortiz took exception. The benches and bullpens emptied, but normalcy was restored, with no ejections.
"I didn't really notice until the third one," said Reddick, who was standing on third at the time. "When David pointed and said something, it kind of got serious."
Chaos came one pitch later.
Ortiz flied out to center, jogging up the baseline with no urgency, and Gregg had words for the All-Star slugger. Ortiz, listed at 230 pounds, charged the right-hander, who's listed as five pounds heavier.
"The place to get him out is pitching him in, and I'm going to pitch him in," said Gregg, who was one of four players ejected when the dust settled. "[It's] 3-0, they're up seven and I think there are some ethics to this game, some guidelines that you have to stay within, [so] run. You hit a fly ball, a lazy fly ball, you got to run the bases. Apparently, he didn't like me telling him that stuff and he came out there. That's part of the game. He has the right to come out there. I'm going to defend myself if he comes out."
The punches flew between Gregg and Ortiz, though none appeared to land squarely. Scutaro was on Gregg's back, Red Sox third-base coach Tim Bogar and O's first baseman Derrek Lee were quick on the scene.
It was, as manager Terry Francona said, "craziness."
"A lot of craziness," he said. "Sometimes it gets hot, and guys get bothered. Those things happen."
If an ugly moment, it was also a test of fortitude, and to that end, the Red Sox felt they did what they had to.
"I was actually watching the ball, then you look down and there are two humongous guys going at it," said Dustin Pedroia, who extended his hit streak to 10 games and homered for a second straight day. "In that situation, you try to support your teammates and break it up. That's pretty much it."
"Anybody in this clubhouse would do anything for anybody in this clubhouse," said reliever Dan Wheeler, who pitched the eighth. "You can't back down from anybody. I don't care how good you are, how much your payroll is. It doesn't matter. All that stuff doesn't matter."
Ortiz, who did not speak after the game, and Jarrod Saltalamacchia, who was in the bullpen, were ejected. Saltalamacchia, who watched Gregg's postgame interview on TV in the clubhouse, didn't know why he was tossed.
From Baltimore, Gregg and reliever Jim Johnson, another who didn't enter the game, were also thrown out. The O's also felt they did what was necessary.
"You hate to see it, but it was sure-as-[heck] necessary in that situation," said Baltimore center fielder Adam Jones. "We've been getting hit around a bit and [forget] it, we took some blows back," Jones added. "That livens everything up in here. We need to come out and use that as some ammo."
Boston's lineup had all the firepower it needed in the first inning. Baltimore starter Zach Britton was tagged for eight runs on six hits and two walks and recorded just two outs, helped none by his defense. The O's kicked it around several times, despite being charged with only one error.
Ortiz's three-run homer was the big blast in the first and made it 4-0. Darnell McDonald made it 6-0 with a two-run double that a diving left fielder Felix Pie missed. A single from Jacoby Ellsbury, who started the inning with a fly out, made it 7-0 and knocked out Britton, with the final run coming on an Adrian Gonzalez single.
"Those things don't happen very often," Francona said of the inning. "That's a nice way to play the game."
Boston's lead in the American League East increased to a full game thanks to the win and a rainout between the second-place Yankees and the Rays in New York. Rain was expected at Fenway, and though it never came, it did give Josh Beckett and the Red Sox a scare.
On his 51st pitch, Beckett suffered a mild hyperextension of his left knee. He finished the inning -- in which he allowed three runs -- before being removed, and said afterward he expected to be fine in time to pitch in the All-Star Game.
"It's a little tender. It's not too bad, though," said Beckett, who threw 68 pitches. "I think everything is going to be fine. I've done this before playing basketball when I was younger. I'm what they call loose-jointed. When things go a little bit too far, it scared me more than anything."
As for the melee, Beckett felt strongly about which team was in the right.
"We're a good hitting team," Beckett said. "You can't just be hitting our ... guys because we're scoring a lot of runs. That's how the game is played. Maybe they saw something different. Maybe they saw something they didn't like or whatever. But if it's just because we scored eight runs in the first inning and they start throwing at our ... guys, it's going to be a long year."