Harper fears retaliation after Papelbon's plunking of Machado

Bryce Harper is on high alert.

After Washington Nationals closer Jonathan Papelbon was ejected for twice throwing high and tight to Baltimore Orioles third baseman Manny Machado in the ninth inning Wednesday, Harper fears he will feel the retaliation --€“ literally.

"I mean Manny freaking hit a homer," Harper told reporters after Wednesday's loss, according to The Associated Press. "Walked it off and somebody drilled him. I mean, it's pretty tired. It's one of those situations where it happens and, I don't know, I'll probably get drilled tomorrow."

Machado's two-run homer -- his 30th long ball of the season --€“ gave the Orioles a 4-3 lead in the seventh inning, and he apparently admired it too long for the Nationals' liking. When he stepped into the batter's box in the ninth inning, Machado nearly was hit by Papelbon's first pitch and then was hit by his third pitch.

"When you throw at somebody's head on purpose first pitch, straight out the get-go, then you throw a curveball, then you throw again at the head, that's just ... . You know it's coward stuff. It's just coward," Machado said.

As for Papelbon, who loitered in Washington's dugout after being ejected, he didn't exactly deny intentionally hitting Machado.

"They just said they deemed it intentional, and they didn't give me any reason," Papelbon told The Associated Press. "I don't know if they have to give me any reason or not, but perception is reality. If Manny thinks I hit him, then that's what he thinks. I'm not going to sit here and go back forth whether I did or whether I didn't, because it doesn't matter. If he thinks I did, that's what he thinks."

The series finale begins Thursday at 4:05 p.m. ET. Harper might be wearing extra padding.