PITTSBURGH - In most cases, a person gets hit over the head only so many times before he takes proactive measures.
After the Milwaukee Brewers plunked them 10 times in 11 tries this season, the Pittsburgh Pirates finally did something about it on Wednesday afternoon.
It took 24-year-old career minor leaguer Aaron Thompson to show them how it's done.
The Associated Press
Pirates rookie Aaron Thompson pitched shutout baseball into the fifth inning.
The Pirates salvaged a split of the four-game series at PNC Park on Wednesday afternoon, 2-0, but even more remarkable was the fact that Brewers sluggers Ryan Braun and Prince Fielder were backed off the plate for the first time in what seemed like forever.
"[The pitchers] got the ball out there and need to do the things that they've got to do," manager Clint Hurdle said. "When the game gets hard, people try to send you the house. You've got to fight back. You need to get what you believe is yours. We need to do more of that."
In his major league debut, Thompson set the tone when he buzzed Fielder on two occasions early in the game.
Tonight: Pittsburgh at St. Louis, 8:15 p.m.
Pitching matchups: Pirates RHP?Charlie Morton (9-6) vs. Cardinals RHP?Edwin?Jackson (2-2)
In the ninth inning, closer Joel Hanrahan came up and in with Braun at the plate.
"Some of the big guys they have to don't like [to be pitched] in," said Thompson, who retired Fielder twice with a runner in scoring position. "Something that we've preached all year from spring training on is to pitch in. It worked today. The game plan worked."
The rookie left-hander scored major points with his manager in the process.
"There's no doubt in my mind no doubt in my mind," Hurdle said when asked whether the staff had strayed from the plan that had worked so well in first half of the season. "It has been a focus point for over a month."
A pair of sacrifice flies were the extent of the offense against Brewers starter Shaun Marcum (11-4) and three relievers, but they were enough.
One year ago, Thompson was in the Washington Nationals farm system, where he had a combined 5-13 record at the Double and Triple A levels. He was claimed off waivers last off-season.
"I was a little bit nervous, but it was nice to get here yesterday and settle in and get a feel for the clubhouse and the guys," he said.
Recalled from Triple A Indianapolis one day earlier, the left-hander responded with 4 1/3 innings of four-hit, no-run ball. He threw 68 pitches, well above the 50 or so that had been expected of him.
"Especially in this atmosphere, being my (first) game, I would have thrown 200 pitches," he said. "I didn't care."
"To me, he looked polished out there like he had done this a number of times," Hurdle said. "He had a great tempo and worked well with (catcher Michael) McKenry. They were both in sync."
After Thompson got into a two-on, one-out jam in the fifth inning, reliever Jason Grilli came in to retire eight consecutive batters to receive credit for the victory.
Grilli (1-0) sat out last season after surgery to repair his right quadriceps. The 34-year-old was claimed from the Philadelphia Phillies organization last month.
"I really don't like to go back to that moment, but I was on the verge of tears to think that I might not put on a uniform again," he said. "That was my motivating factor for something that I've worked so hard at and all I know work hard and take the upward climb. (The result) has been more than satisfactory."
Reliever Jose Veras pitched a scoreless eighth inning. Hanrahan survived a shaky ninth to earn his 32nd save of the season.
Nobody was more thrilled than Thompson's parents, brother and grandfather, who were among the 18,013 fans on hand. They made the trip from south Texas to attend the game.
"It was a special day," he said.