Bennett says plunking unintentional

Bennett says plunking unintentional

CHICAGO -- If the bruise on Brian McCann's right side was acquired in retaliation to the broken hand Alfonso Soriano suffered two innings earlier, then Jeff Bennett is sorry.

But at the same time, the Braves right-hander doesn't see how anybody could have thought he was attempting to hit Soriano with an 0-2 pitch in the second inning of Wednesday's game at Wrigley Field.

While McCann was back in the Braves lineup for Thursday's series finale, the Cubs will likely be without Soriano for the next six weeks. "If you know me, you know that I pitch [inside] a lot," Bennett said. "If it's going to be a purposeful thing, most everybody on the field is going to know it. You're not going to hit a guy [with an] 0-2 [count]. That's kind of like giving him a free pass."

Bennett left before the end of Wednesday's game to tend to his ailing wife. When he returned on Thursday, he was ready to explain what happened, and happy to report that his wife was fine.

Pressed into making a spot start less than 24 hours after scheduled starter Jair Jurrjens twisted his left ankle, Bennett allowed seven earned runs and surrendered seven hits in just two-plus innings.

When he hit Soriano with the high and inside fastball, the Cubs had a runner on second base and two outs.

"That's the last thing I wanted to do with a guy on second and with two strikes," Bennett said. "I mean, you've got him struck out. He always stands over the plate and dives over it a little bit. If you look over his [scouting report], he'll swing at that high fastball. That's what I wanted to do. It didn't work out that way."

After Soriano was taken to a nearby hospital, McCann came to the plate in the fourth inning with two outs and was hit with a 1-1 fastball from Ryan Dempster.

Bennett said he sensed it was a purpose pitch, and McCann seemed to share that opinion. But at the same time, the Braves All-Star catcher didn't seem too upset.

"Obviously we weren't trying to hit Soriano," McCann said. "But if they felt like they needed to get back, then we're even now and it's over."

If there was reason for McCann to be upset, it would have been because Bennett had chosen to shake off so many of his pitches. This might have been one of the reasons the right-hander incurred so much damage with two outs, or with 0-2 counts.

Kosuke Fukudome's first-inning, three-run homer came with two outs and an 0-2 count. Of the four consecutive batters that reached safely to begin the third inning off Bennett, two of them fought back from an 0-2 count.

Bennett, who has primarily been used as a long reliever this year, thought his lack of aggression in that situation might have stemmed from the fact that he thought he needed to conserve energy in the starter's role.

"There's a different mentality when you are starting and relieving, in relation to putting a guy away," Bennett said. "In the 'pen, my effort is turned up. When you're starting, your effort is more of an endurance thing."

Mark Bowman is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.