Torey Lovullo claimed his Arizona Diamondbacks were being framed.
The manager set off a benches-clearing incident in his team's 4-1 win over the St. Louis Cardinals on Sunday by maintaining eight-time All-Star catcher Yadier Molina was earning unwarranted strike calls.
"I don't want to say he is getting more than anyone else, because it's part of the game," Lovullo said. "I have the upmost respect for Yadier Molina. He 's one of the best catchers the game has ever seen. It was more of me saying, I respect him on that level, that he's getting special things because he's that good. That's where I was coming from."
Lovullo was ejected by plate umpire Tim Timmons in the second inning. Lovullo was arguing a called third strike on A.J. Pollock and got into a shouting match with Molina. The catcher appeared to lunge at Luvollo and made contact as players ran onto the field.
St. Louis manager Mike Matheny stepped between Molina and Lovullo.
Lovullo had shown displeasure on a strike three call to David Peralta in the first inning, then went to the umpire after the call against Pollock.
"I used a poor choice of words and he (Molina) took offense to it," Lovuollo said. "I wish I could take back what I said. It really wasn't directed at him. I was just frustrated over what I was watching."
Molina remained upset after the game
"He said a bad word to me and I reacted that way," Molina said. "He called me (it) twice. You can't allow that."
Timmons explained what he saw and heard to media.
"So when Lovullo got to me after I had ejected him, he made a comment that was aggressive that Yadi overheard, so that's why Yadi reacted the way that he did," the umpire said. "I think at that point Yadi became agitated, which was understandable. (The contact) was just incidental."
Pollock was walking back to the dugout at the time.
"I never thought someone arguing a third strike call was going to create a benches-clearing brawl," Pollock said. "But we stuck together as a team. We all have Torey's back."
Peralta hit a tiebreaking, two-run homer off Dominic Leone in the eighth, and Pollock went deep later in the inning. In his second year in charge, Lovullo got his 100th win and was given a post-game beer shower by his coaches.
Arizona opened the season with three straight series wins for the first time, and its 7-2 start match the franchise best also accomplished in 2000, 2007, 2008 and 2017.
With three losses in its last five games, St. Louis dropped to 4-5.
Yoshihisa Hirano (1-0), a 34-year-old Japanese right-hander who agreed to a $6 million, two-year contract in December, pitched a perfect seventh for his first major league win.
Archie Bradley pitched around Kolten Wong's leadoff single in the eighth, and Brad Boxberger finished for his fourth save in as many chances, retiring Jose Martinez on a game-ending, double-play grounder
"Every time you hit a home run it feels good," Peralta said. "It was a situation where you have to take advantage of a mistake."
St. Louis starter Luke Weaver allowed one run and three hits in 6 1/3 innings with seven strikeouts, leaving with a 1-0 lead created by Wong's RBI single in the fifth.
Nick Ahmed hit a tying RBI single off Matt Bowman in the seventh.
Chris Owings singled off Leone (0-2) starting the eighth and Peralta hit his second home run this season. Pollock followed two batters later with his first.
Cardinals: LHP Ryan Sherriff was placed on the 10-day DL with a broken right big toe. RHP John Brebbia was recalled from Triple-A Memphis.
Cardinals: RHP Miles Mikolas (1-0, 6.35) is scheduled to start Monday in the first of three games against Milwaukee and RHP Jhoulys Chacin (0-1, 7.00) was scheduled to start for the Brewers. Mikolas hit a two-run homer for his first major league hit in a 8-4 win over Milwaukee on April 2.