Must C Clash: Benches clear after Gomez goes deep

NEW YORK -- The Brewers were forced to make a lineup change Thursday afternoon when center fielder Carlos Gomez drew a one-game suspension from Major League Baseball for his role in inciting a benches-clearing incident Wednesday night in Atlanta.

Gomez opted not to appeal, and he sat out as the Brewers began a four-game series against the Mets at Citi Field.

"I expected that with what happened last night," Gomez said. "It's not good for baseball, all that's going on. You have to take it like a man and be responsible for the stuff that I did. Just take the game today and come back tomorrow and continue to finish hard and strong."

Atlanta's Reed Johnson, who ran onto the field and landed a punch against Gomez, also was suspended one game.

Tempers flared after Gomez stood to admire his first-inning home run against Braves starter Paul Maholm, a left-hander who had struck Gomez on the knee with a pitch back on June 23 at Miller Park -- a plunking Gomez deemed intentional. Braves catcher Brian McCann and Freeman had harsh words for Gomez when he finally began his trot, and Gomez yelled back all the way around the bases.

Before Gomez reached home plate, he was confronted by McCann along the third-base line, and both benches emptied for a fracas that led to ejections for Gomez, Freeman and Braves backup catcher Gerald Laird. McCann was not ejected, but he and Freeman were fined Thursday by MLB.

The incident was replayed throughout the day Thursday, but Gomez said he did not watch.

"I mean, to be honest, I don't care what other people say," Gomez said. "I only care about my team and what happened last night and the reason why everything happened last night. I apologize to people from MLB, to my teammates, my team, the organization, to the Braves. It's not really fun when everything happens like that. Take it like a man and come back tomorrow and continue to do business."

Did he consider an appeal?

"I mean, what are the chances you win an appeal?" Gomez said. "I don't want to take a chance to 2014 that I'm not in the Opening Day [lineup]. It's better to take it now and be over, and start 2014 when everything is finished."

Though Freeman and Laird were also ejected, they did not draw suspensions. But Johnson did, after running onto the field from the bench to deliver a punch to Gomez's head.

Gomez said he had no history with Johnson and was not sure why Johnson's reaction was particularly strong.

"I don't even know him; I didn't even know he was still playing," Gomez said.

Brewers manager Ron Roenicke did not learn of the suspension until after he had posted a lineup in the visitor's clubhouse at Citi Field. With Gomez out, he shifted Norichika Aoki from right field to center, Caleb Gindl from left field to right and inserted Khris Davis as the left fielder.

He was satisfied with Gomez's comments in the wake of the incident -- and with the fact only Gomez and Johnson drew suspensions.

"The things that I don't like are, I don't want our actions to cause anything that hurts the Braves from doing what they're trying to do right now," Roenicke said. "So I would just assume not see anything. Now Johnson coming over, I understand [his being suspended]. But the others, they've got four games left, and they're important games. And I wouldn't want something, because we started it, to happen to hurt whatever chances they have."

Ramirez hopeful injury won't end his '13

STL@MIL: Aramis opens the scoring with an RBI single

NEW YORK -- As expected, third baseman Aramis Ramirez was absent from the Brewers' starting lineup Thursday after re-injuring his balky left knee during Wednesday's scrum with the Braves. But Ramirez expressed more hope about playing in at least one more game this season.

"I don't want to end the season with an injury," Ramirez said.

It's been a season of buzzard's luck for Ramirez, who contributed 50 doubles, 27 home runs and 105 RBIs in his debut season with the Brewers in 2012 but has been limited to 90 games in 2013 because of a sprained left knee originally sustained in Spring Training. He missed 54 games while on the disabled list, plus many more while on the active roster but banged up.

"It couldn't be any worse, huh?" Ramirez said.

He was not sure exactly how he tweaked his knee in Wednesday's scuffle but said it had nothing to do with Braves first baseman Freddie Freeman inadvertently elbowing Ramirez in the face.

Dress-up night highlights Brewers' youth

NEW YORK -- Eighteen players who began the season with less than one year of Major League service time were forced to dress in costume for the Brewers' late-night flight from Atlanta on Wednesday, a recent record as far as co-organizer Yovani Gallardo was concerned.

Considering the Brewers' better play of late, that figure actually gave Gallardo a bit of hope about the team's future.

"With all the young guys we have in here, it's something to look forward to," said Gallardo, who makes his final start of the season Friday night. "The way they've been playing, they go out there giving 100 percent each time out, and they're going to get better with experience."

Gallardo picked out the costumes with fellow veteran pitchers Kyle Lohse and Tom Gorzelanny. At least a half-dozen players were dressed in caps and gowns, a sign they had graduated to a year-plus of MLB service. Others were not as lucky, including 5-foot-10 second baseman Scooter Gennett, dressed in a diaper, and 6-foot-9 pitcher Johnny Hellweg, dressed as a giant crayon. Reliever Rob Wooten was a Dallas Cowboys cheerleader, and outfielder Khris Davis was Rainbow Brite.

Once in New York, the team bus stopped a few blocks short of the hotel so young players could walk the rest of the way.

"It was fun," Gallardo said. "That's always something you look forward to. The big thing was we got a win yesterday, too. That makes it a lot more enjoyable."

Last call

• Roenicke said he had been talking with his coaches for some time about giving Aoki a start in center field. It made sense Thursday, according to Roenicke, because he believed Logan Schafer was still dealing with the effects of a back injury.

• Brewers broadcaster Bob Uecker, asked Thursday for his view of MLB Commissioner Allan H. "Bud" Selig's biggest accomplishment: "Well, I think getting away without paying me a salary for the first 10 years, that was pretty big."