CINCINNATI -- An ongoing feud between Indians pitcher Derek Lowe and Reds manager Dusty Baker heated up on Wednesday and then boiled over on Thursday when Baker revealed he instructed starter Mat Latos to throw a purpose-pitch inside at Lowe.
Following a 5-3 Reds victory on Wednesday, Lowe said he had "zero respect" for Baker during a postgame rant in response to Latos pitching inside to him in the top of the fifth inning. Lowe accused Baker of instructing his pitchers to brush him back over the past five seasons.
On Thursday morning, Baker said he called for the inside pitch.
"I'm not denying anything," Baker said. "I didn't order anybody to hit him, but I told [Latos] to buzz him and make him uncomfortable. That's what happened."
During his tirade on Wednesday night, the 39-year-old Lowe indicated that his history with Baker dates back to the pitcher's final season with the Dodgers in 2008. Visibly angered on Thursday, the typically calm Reds manager fired some harsh words at Lowe and claimed that their issues stem from something the pitcher did several years ago.
"You go ask him, since he made it public. Go ask him what he did," Baker said. "The word was that whatever he did and said, there was probably a good chance he was drinking at the ballpark at that time ... so he doesn't remember what he said or what he did, OK?"
Approached by reporters on Thursday morning, Lowe would not address Baker's comments.
"I don't care what he said today," Lowe said. "I'm not saying anything about it. I promise you, you can ask, but I'm not saying a word about it."
Indians manager Manny Acta chose not to step into the middle of the situation involving Lowe, who was acquired from the Braves over the offseason in a trade.
"I'm not into gossiping," Acta said. "This is my first time managing Derek. I'm not aware of anything that was going on. All I can do is stand by my team and my players, but I'm not into gossiping. So everything you want to get, you go to Dusty and Derek, because I'm not aware of what's going on."
In the fifth inning on Wednesday, Lowe led off and Latos sent a 96-mph fastball a little far inside for the Tribe starter's liking. Irked by the pitch, Lowe motioned to the Reds' dugout and barked at Baker. In response, the Cincinnati skipper waved a finger at Lowe.
Lowe said on Wednesday night that he felt Baker was indicating that he had nothing to do with the inside offering. On Thursday morning, the Reds manager admitted that his hand gesture did indeed carry a message, but not the one Lowe assumed.
"[Dikembe] Mutombo didn't shake his finger to say 'I had nothing to do with it,'" Baker said. "That means don't mess with me, or my team. That's what that means. He better learn sign language."
Latos also took a shot at Lowe after hearing the Indians pitcher's accusations.
"It's whatever he wants to think," Latos said. "We'll let him play into his ego or whatever it is. It's done and over with. If he wants to whine about it, let him whine about it."
Asked if he was aware of any history between Lowe and Baker, Latos said that he had heard rumblings about the feud.
"I've heard this and I've heard that," Latos said. "He drilled Joey [Votto] in the back a while back [in 2009]. If I wanted to hit the man, I would have hit him. No ands, ifs or buts about it. It would have been done."
In the bottom of the fifth on Wednesday, Lowe hit Reds second baseman Brandon Phillips on the left arm with his first pitch and home-plate umpire Paul Nauert issued a warning to both clubs. Baker was quick to point to that hit by pitch -- as well as the one against Votto a few years back -- during his comments about Lowe on Thursday.
"You have to ask him why he hit Joey Votto in the back," Baker said. "Then [on Wednesday], he took exception to that ball inside that didn't hit him. Understand what I'm saying? Then he hit Brandon Phillips after that."
Lowe is slated to face the Reds again on Monday when the teams meet again at Cleveland's Progressive Field, where a DH will be used and Lowe will not bat. Where the feud goes from here is anyone's guess, but for now it sounds as if Lowe and Baker have said all they're willing to say about it.
"What he was talking about was something that he said and did a few years ago," Baker said. "You've got to ask him what that was. Understand? He got a lot of people involved in the situation that didn't need to be involved in the situation. It didn't come from them.
"It's not something I'd really like to make a public thing or public spectacle. He's the one who brought it up. He had some rather choice words for me. I really don't care if he respects me or not. I don't really care what he says. It doesn't matter."
Jordan Bastian is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Major League Bastian, and follow him on Twitter @MLBastian. Mark Sheldon is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Mark My Word, and follow him on Twitter @m_sheldon. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.