Now the Tampa Bay Rays are fighting among themselves.

Rays starting pitcher Matt Garza and catcher Dioner Navarro had to be separated in the dugout - minutes after an angry confrontation on the mound - in a 6-3 loss at Texas yesterday in which Tampa Bay missed a chance for its first series sweep on the road this season.

"This wasn't pretty today. It was a bad day all around," leftfielder Carl Crawford said.

"It was nothing, in-house kind of stuff, things that happen on occasion and we took care of it," manager Joe Maddon insisted, without being specific. "It was shoving, that was it. It's been taken care of."

After Rangers No. 9 hitter German Duran hit a two-run homer for a 3-0 lead in the fourth, Garza and Navarro had a heated exchange on the mound, sticking their gloves into each other's face. Pitching coach Jim Hickey pushed Navarro back toward the plate when he visited the mound.

When the inning ended, Garza approached Navarro in the dugout. Television cameras caught them face-to-face in a scuffle that spilled into the tunnel leading to the clubhouse. Maddon, Hickey and others rushed to break up the fracas.

"It was just something that happened in the game and it's been taken care of," Navarro said. "It happens in the family . . . We're fine. We're brothers, a whole family. The oldest brother gets into fights sometimes. It's been straightened out."

Jason Hammel took over on the mound in the fifth, while Navarro remained in the game. Garza gave up three runs and six hits with two strikeouts.

"Just keep it in house and fix it. That's about it," Garza said.

Hickey said he didn't know if the disagreement was "over pitch selection or whatever."

The scuffle between pitcher and catcher came only 3 days after Tampa Bay was involved in a bench-clearing brawl at Boston.

Tampa Bay (37-26) dropped 1 1/2 games behind Boston in the AL East as Texas got home runs from David Murphy, Duran and Ramon Vazquez.

In other games:

* At New York, Joba Chamberlain bounced back from a disappointing first start with the Yankees, pitching into the fifth inning in a 6-3 win over Kansas City. Jason Giambi hit a tiebreaking homer in the sixth and Bobby Abreu finished with a home run and three RBI for the Yankees. Dan Giese (1-1) replaced Chamberlain and pitched 2 2/3 hitless innings for the win.

* At Chicago, Nick Swisher and Alexei Ramirez homered as the White Sox routed Minnesota, 12-2, for their sixth straight win. Gavin Floyd (7-3) struck out a career-high nine for the win.

* At Oakland, Mark Ellis hit a grand slam with two outs in the 12th inning, giving the Athletics a 7-3 victory over the Los Angeles Angels to avoid a three-game sweep.

* At Boston, Justin Masterson (3-0) pitched six strong innings and J.D. Drew hit a go-ahead homer, lifting the Red Sox over Seattle, 2-1.

* At Toronto, Roy Halladay (8-5) won his fourth straight start, Vernon Wells homered and the Blue Jays snapped a four-game losing streak, 5-4 over Baltimore.

* At Detroit, Curtis Granderson homered and Placido Polanco hit a key two-run single as the Tigers beat Cleveland, 5-2.

Noteworthy

* Oakland first baseman/DH Mike Sweeney will undergo arthroscopic surgery on his troublesome left knee Wednesday and is expected to miss 4 to 6 weeks. *