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05/01/08 12:05 AM ET

Pena confused by late-inning altercation

O's pitcher Sarfate thought first baseman was stealing signals

BALTIMORE -- Carlos Pena and Orioles reliever Dennis Sarfate exchanged words in the eighth inning of Tuesday night's game when Sarfate is believed to have thought Pena was attempting to steal the catcher's signs.

Sarfate did not address what happened following the game, but O's catcher Ramon Hernandez said he thought Sarfate told Pena to "stop peeking."

Sarfate appeared to bark at Pena prior to throwing a 2-2 pitch to the Rays first baseman, who quickly barked back.

"I didn't know exactly what he was talking about at first," Pena said. "He just started yelling, so I yelled back."

Home-plate umpire James Hoye controlled the situation before it could get ugly.

"[Hoye] told me not to go anywhere," Pena said. "I was totally caught off guard. I didn't know what he was talking about."

Not until Pena returned to the bench and B.J. Upton told him Sarfate thought Pena was stealing signals did Pena finally understand all the fuss. Upton had been on second base when Pena was hitting. Pena ended the inning by grounding into a 4-6-3 double play.

"I would think to be able to look at the catcher's signs and still be able to hit a 95-mph fastball, that's kind of tough to do," Pena said. "Especially with a guy on second, they're giving three signs. So not only do you have to look at the signs, you also have to know their sequence and then you have to turn around and look at him and try to pick up the ball and hit it. ... Totally ridiculous, it's just making things up."

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