Pirates blank Brewers as Trevor Williams continues dominance
PITTSBURGH — The Pittsburgh Pirates managed to slow the playoff push of the nemesis Brewers on Saturday night as Trevor Williams continued to vex Milwaukee.
The Brewers’ offense was stymied when Williams combined with three relievers on a five-hitter that led the Pirates to a 3-0 victory.
“He’s impressive. He has a really good game plan, and he executes it,” Brewers manager Craig Counsell said. “He doesn’t miss in the middle of the plate. He doesn’t give you many good pitches to hit. Our guys would tell you they probably got one good pitch to hit each — and that was in three at-bats.”
Seeking to reach the postseason for the first time since 2011, the Brewers had their NL wild-card lead cut to two games over St. Louis. Milwaukee also dropped to 2½ games behind the Chicago Cubs in the NL Central with seven games left.
Williams (14-9) gave up four hits in six innings, struck out seven and walked one, improving to 4-0 in his last six starts. He has pitched 19 scoreless innings in three outings against the Brewers this season and is 3-1 with a 1.38 ERA in six career games against them. He is 4-2 with a 0.86 ERA in his last seven home starts.
Williams pitched six innings of two-hit ball at Milwaukee last Sunday and was worried about facing the same team in consecutive starts.
“I know they’ve seen four other pitchers between me, but it always feels like the hitting team has the competitive advantage when you see someone so close,” Williams said. “I think we executed fine with the fastball to all four corners of the strike zone.”
Rich Rodriguez, Kyle Crick and Felipe Vazquez followed with one inning each. Vazquez worked around Christian Yelich’s leadoff double in the ninth for his 36th save in 41 chances. The Pirates’ 16 shutouts are one behind Detroit, the major league leader.
Milwaukee never got a runner past second base and was shut out for the 12th time this season.
Starling Marte hit a two-run double in the third, and Colin Moran added an RBI single in the eighth.
Zach Davies (2-7) gave up two runs and four hits in four innings. He is 0-2 in four starts since being sidelined from May 30 to Sept. 2 by inflammation in the rotator cuff of his right shoulder. Davies also fell to 2-5 in his career against the Pirates.
Davies retired the first two batters in the third before Williams and Adam Frazier singled to keep the inning alive for Marte.
The Pirates won for the sixth time in seven games but trail St. Louis by 7½ games for the second NL wild card with nine games left.
Moran, Frazier and Corey Dickerson each had two of the Pirates’ 10 hits.
Marte needs one home run to become the third player in Pirates history to have at least 20 homers and 30 stolen bases in the same season. Barry Bonds did it four times, in 1987 and from 1990-92, and Andy Van Slyke pulled off the feat in ‘87 and ‘88.
Pirates RHP Joe Musgrove (stress reaction in pelvic bone/strained abdomen) was scratched from his scheduled start Sunday and will not pitch again this season. Musgrove said he first felt pain in his last start before the All-Star break in July. He finished 6-9 with a 4.06 ERA in 19 starts.
Catcher Francisco Cervelli (gastrointestinal discomfort) did not play after leaving Friday night’s game in the sixth inning.