MILWAUKEE -- Jeff Karstens threw a pitch up, and Milwaukee's Ryan Braun threw down a gauntlet.
While the Pirates' No. 5 starter yesterday strenuously denied he intended to plunk Braun between the shoulders as happened Monday in the at-bat after the Brewers' slugger homered in the first inning, Braun was still buzzing about both the incident and future potential repercussions before the game last night.
Braun said he feels Karstens was ordered to hit him. And he anticipated retribution by his Milwaukee teammates.
"I guarantee you that kid wanted nothing to do with it," said Braun, whom home-plate umpire John Hirschbeck escorted halfway to first base before warning both dugouts about further such incidents. "It came from somebody else. He wouldn't even look at me. ..."
Monday night, long after the Brewers' 10-5 victory, Braun talked to reporters about warning commissioner Bud Selig of a potential payback to the Central Division rival Pirates: "Tell Mr. Selig we'll see what happens."
A day later, Braun continued: "There are plenty of times when it's unintentional and you move on. That's baseball. But, when it's clearly intentional, I think more often than not something does happen. We're the wrong team to mess with. No disrespect to anybody, but we're a different team."
From the early going last night, the closest thing approximating retribution was an inside pitch that grazed the hand of the Pirates' second batter, Freddy Sanchez -- who was thrown out trying to score from third on a grounder to third.
The Brewers dugout got a warning from home plate umpire Wally Bell with two out in the fifth, when starter Dave Bush hit Eric Hinske and Andy LaRoche with back-to-back pitches, though neither greatly dangerous. No matter, for the Pirates responded with a two-run double from Jason Jaramillo with two out.
Pirates manager John Russell downplayed any possible fallout beforehand.
"Yesterday's over and out of our minds," Russell said, though clearly it wasn't out of Braun's.
"If they do something, that's up to them. We're not going to think about guys hitting us or us hitting them. Just go out and do our jobs like we've done all year."
Karstens, for the record, said of his first pitch of the third inning: "There was no intent behind it. I was trying to come inside. Obviously, I'm not going to hit him on purpose. He was up first, and [Prince] Fielder was hitting behind him.
"The last thing I want to do is put my team in that situation. Being in his shoes, I probably wouldn't be happy, either. But it definitely wasn't intentional."
• Nate McLouth threw from 90 feet for 10 minutes or so in the Miller Park outfield yesterday. "Progress," Russell said. "Start a little bit of activity, start throwing a bit. See how it feels." The plan called for McLouth to hit off a tee and inside a cage today, then endure at least one on-field batting practice before returning to the lineup.
• Jack Wilson will take off another five or six days to reduce the swelling in the shortstop's sprained middle finger on his left hand before trying to hit. That was the order from hand specialist Dr. Mark Baratz after examining Wilson in Pittsburgh yesterday. Once the swelling subsides, Wilson will resume hitting and, if that goes well, try catching the ball with that hand.