Nine Indianapolis pitchers gave up 22 runs against Charlotte in the first two games of the International League semifinals.
Phil Irwin had seen enough.
The Pirates prospect recorded 11 strikeouts over seven innings Friday as the Indians staved off elimination with an 8-0 victory at Charlotte.
The Knights still hold a 2-1 advantage in the best-of-5 series, which resumes Saturday night in Charlotte.
"They had been really aggressive and beat us up early for two games in a row. I wanted to go inside and I wanted to go inside hard, because they had been really comfortable," Irwin told reporters after the game. "So I had it in my mind if I go 0-1, I am going in off the plate.
"I felt really good with my control all night. The sinker was working really well and I was pounding guys in a lot and I was able to finish them off with the curveball."
Irwin (1-0) gave up only two hits -- Josh Phegley's leadoff double in the second and Greg Golson's single to start the sixth -- while walking one batter. The 11 strikeouts were a career high.
The 25-year-old right-hander struck out nine twice during the regular season, most recently on Aug. 23. He fanned 10 over six innings in Daytona while pitching for Class A Advanced Bradenton on May 26, 2011.
"It was my curveball," said Irwin, a 2009 21st-round Draft pick. "It allows me to strike guys out. It was really good tonight. I could throw it for a strike, I could bounce it, I could move it around, and once I had established that enough and they were conscious of it, then I started freezing them on fastballs and even getting swing-throughs on fastballs."
Irwin finished the regular season 3-0 with a 2.57 ERA and 28 Ks over 21 innings in four Triple-A starts. He spent most of the season with Double-A Altoona, where he compiled a 2.93 ERA in 18 games, including 16 starts.
The Indians got RBIs from six different hitters. Veteran third baseman Hector Luna led the way with three hits, including a run-scoring double in the sixth.
Knights starter Scott Carroll (0-1) was charged with five runs on five hits and left with two outs in the sixth.
In other International League action:
Scranton/Wilkes-Barre 4, Pawtucket 3
The Yankees also avoided a sweep in its best-of-5 semifinal against the Red Sox and did it in even more exciting fashion. They scored three runs in the bottom of the ninth inning, two on Melky Mesa's walk-off homer off reliever Pedro Beato.
In defeat, Bryce Brentz, Boston's No. 4 prospect, hit his second homer in three days. He connected on a 2-1 pitch from Yankees starter Michael O'Connor in the second.
The Red Sox's first-round pick in 2010 was 0-for-12 with five strikeouts in his first four games at Triple-A following an Aug. 30 promotion. But he has four hits, including three for extra bases, and five RBIs in the series.
Pawtucket's Billy Buckner, who won his final four starts of the regular season, gave up one hit and issued one walk over 6 1/3 scoreless innings. He struck out seven and retired his final 16 batters.
O'Connor gave up the first two runs on three hits over six innings, fanning five. Gameday box score