Seven shutout innings from Trevor Williams and a couple big hits gave the Pirates a 3-0 win in the opener of their two-and-two, home-and-home series with the Tigers.
Williams had his best career start, allowing just one hit and two walks. He successfully pitched around the edges of the strike zone, helped by some fairly generous calls. The closest thing to a threat came when he gave up a leadoff single in the third. A steal put the runner in scoring position with no outs, but Williams got three easy outs to end the threat. A one-out walk in the fourth went nowhere when Williams fanned Miguel Cabrera and Francisco Cervelli caught the runner stealing. A diving catch by Andrew McCutchen prevented a leadoff extra base hit in the fifth.
The Pirates got a run in the second on a two-out double by Cervelli. Other than that, they had little more offense than the Tigers. Twice they got leadoff runners on only to ground into double plays. They finished the game with just five hits, with nobody getting more than one.
Williams’ efforts to paint the corners started to fray in the seventh, but he held on. He walked the leadoff man and then fell behind each of the next three hitters. He was able to make the pitches he needed to get out of it, though, helped by a nice stop of a hard grounder by David Freese. The inning ended on a called third strike on a borderline pitch. By then he was up to 107 pitches and his night was over.
The Pirates finally got a little breathing room in the bottom of the seventh. Following the second of those double plays, Cervelli walked. John Jaso, batting for Williams and battling a 1-for-37 famine, launched his eight HR, third as a pinch hitter, into the seats in right.
George Kontos made his Pirates debut with an easy eighth inning. With Felipe Rivero unavailable, Juan Nicasio got the save opportunity. He had even less trouble, fanning two in the inning.
Chad Kuhl has a chance to get the Pirates a sweep of their home half of the series tomorrow.