Trevor Williams pitches Cubs past Pirates 4-1

MLB

PITTSBURGH (AP)Trevor Williams pitched six innings and singled twice against his former team, helping the streaking Chicago Cubs top the stumbling Pittsburgh Pirates 4-1 on Wednesday night.

Chicago won for the fifth time in six games and stayed a half-game back of NL Central-leading St. Louis. David Bote hit a two-run homer for the Cubs, and Kris Bryant had three hits and two RBIs.

Williams (3-2) permitted one run and three hits in his first win since April 17. He struck out seven and walked none.

”He was fantastic. He was sensational,” Bote said. ”That was fun to play behind. He was working quick, and the ball was zipping through the zone.”

Williams allowed seven runs in 7 1/3 innings in his two previous starts against Pittsburgh this year. He spent his first five seasons with the Pirates before being released in November.

After allowing a one-out triple by Ben Gamel in the first inning, Williams retired 14 batters in a row.

Williams said his troubles against the Pirates stemmed more from being unable to execute pitches than emotion.

”I was obviously familiar with their hitters but facing them for the third time makes them a lot more familiar as far as looking at them from the other side,” Williams said. ”I was able to piece together (pitch) sequences and just tried to continually attack.”

Cubs starters have a 2.98 ERA in the last 10 games after registering a 4.81 mark in the previous 16 games.

”The rotation has really righted the ship and been the version we expected them to be and the version they expected themselves to be at the start of the season,” manager David Ross said.

Williams also went 2 for 3 at the plate, helping Chicago score in the second and sixth.

”I blacked out twice,” Williams cracked when asked about his hitting.

Craig Kimbrel pitched the ninth for his 11th save of the season and No. 359 for his career, moving into 11th place on baseball’s list. Chicago relievers have surrendered only one unearned run in 32 1/3 innings in the last 10 games.

Pittsburgh dropped its fifth straight game. Rookie Wil Crowe (0-3) recorded just four outs.

”His fastball was not effective, and I thought the best chance we had of winning the game was going to the bullpen and the bullpen did a great job,” manager Derek Shelton said.

Rafael Ortega drew a leadoff walk in the second and Bote followed with a drive to center field. Bryant added an RBI single.

Winless in nine career starts, Crowe allowed five hits and walked two.

Bryant made it 4-0 when he singled in Eric Sogard in the sixth. Sogard finished with two hits.

The Pirates got their lone run in the sixth when Kevin Newman led off with a double and scored on Erik Gonzalez’s single.

Gamel and Newman each had two of Pittsburgh’s five hits.

Rain delayed the start of the game by 26 minutes.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Cubs: 1B Anthony Rizzo (back stiffness) was held out of the lineup. The same injury sidelined him for a game last week. … C Willson Contreras (bruised left wrist) returned to action after sitting out Tuesday’s win over the Pirates. … INF Nico Hoerner (left hamstring strain) was placed on the 10-day injured list. Ortega was promoted from Triple-A Iowa and RHP Shelby Miller was designated for assignment.

Pirates: RHP Trevor Cahill (strained left calf) had a bullpen session. He was placed on the IL last week. … OF Ka’ai Tom (left wrist contusion) has resumed baseball activities. … LHP Steven Brault (strained left lat), who has been out all season, is throwing at 105 feet.

PIRATES SHUFFLE PITCHERS

Pittsburgh rookie Cody Ponce was optioned to Triple-A Indianapolis after taking the loss Tuesday night when he gave up four runs in five innings. Right-hander Nick Mears was recalled from Indianapolis and will be used in relief.

The Pirates have not announced who will take Ponce’s place in the rotation. It is possible Cahill or Chad Kuhl (right shoulder discomfort) could be activated from the IL to face Colorado on Sunday.

UP NEXT

Cubs RHP Kyle Hendricks (4-4, 4.74 ERA) is scheduled to start the series finale Thursday against Pirates LHP Tyler Anderson (3-4, 4.73 ERA). Hendricks has allowed two runs or less in eight of his last nine starts in Pittsburgh. Anderson tied a career high by getting tagged for nine runs in five innings by Atlanta in his last start.

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