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.