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Nationals’ Bryce Harper day-to-day after injuring thumb; Nats and Pirates’ benches clear...

Bryce Harper is day-to-day after injuring his thumb on a controversial play at third in the Nationals’ win over the Pirates on Sunday.

MLB: Washington Nationals at Pittsburgh Pirates Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Clint Hurdle didn’t think Jung Ho Kang did anything wrong. Kang put down a fake tag at third on a wide throw in from right on a Bryce Harper triple in the top of the third inning of Sunday’s series finale in Pittsburgh’s PNC Park.

Harper bought the fake and made a late, awkward slide into third, on which he injured his left thumb.

Through an interpreter, Kang told reporters, including Pittsburgh Tribune writer Rob Biertempfel, that he had no ill intentions:

“I meant no harm. During a relay play, I [tried] to hold the runner on third base. That's all I tried to do.”

His manager supported that thinking, explaining that the Nationals’ 23-year-old outfielder and Washington’s third base coach bore some responsibility.

“It's not the first fake tag ever made in the game,” Hurtle said.

“And the third base coach also has a responsibility to help the runner. So, somebody thought there was a play at third or the runner took it upon himself to slide.”

Dusty Baker did not think there was a play at third that warranted the feint.

“I thought it was wrong,” Baker said.

“They didn’t think that he did anything wrong. That’s how arguments usually get started.”

He didn’t appreciate the fact that he heard some chirping from the Pirates’ dugout when he went out to check on Harper at third. Baker barked back at the Bucs as he returned to the first base side of the field. That was too much.

“I don’t have a bad temper,” Baker said. “I just have a short temper and what kind of irked me is when a couple of guys over there, whoever it was, they were talking stuff when I was walking back. As a person with a short temper, I don’t start nothing, but you don’t take nothing.”

A half-inning later, when Kang stepped to the plate with two out and the bases empty, A.J. Cole fired a fastball behind his back, and a little too high in some Pirates’ opinions.

Cole was ejected immediately. Both dugouts and bullpens eventually spilled onto the field. Tempers flared. Sean Rodriguez went after someone (Oliver Perez?). He too was ejected by home plate umpire Jordan Baker.

Rodriguez said throwing at a player is not a problem, but throwing at or near their head is something else.

Harper was not a fan of the deke, telling reporters it wasn’t good for the game. Cole said the scouting report on Kang said to pitch him up and in and ... his control hasn’t quite been there in recent weeks.

He did walk the first three batters he faced in the series finale, but the last pitch he threw had a purpose whether or not he copped to it.

Baker said when it came to the play that started the tension, it was really simple.

“Either there’s a play or isn’t,” he said. “Most of the time when you deke a guy, he doesn’t know where the ball is and there’s going to be a throw to you.

“That throw damn near hit the tarp over there.”

Harper left the game before the Nats took the field for the bottom of the third.

He said afterwards that though he initially feared another ligament injury in his thumb, it was more like he jammed it. Harper tore the ulnar collateral ligament in his thumb in April of 2014.

“His hand is sore, but it’s in a different spot than when he hurt his hand before,” Baker confirmed.

“And so it’s just sore. Who knows how long it could be. We’ve got to take care of it. It’s day-to-day.”

“He’ll probably go for X-rays tomorrow,” Baker added. “I mean, right now, like I said, it’s day-to-day, so we don’t want to guess about what happened or the severity of it.”

Harper was 1 for 2 with a run scored and an RBI groundout before he left what ended up a 10-7 win for the Nationals.

• We talked about the play at third, the Nationals’ win and more on Nats Nightly after the game: