PITTSBURGH — Trevor Williams pitched out of the stretch for most of the day. He also pitched out of trouble all game long.
Williams tossed seven scoreless innings, Jordy Mercer hit his career-best 13th homer and the Pittsburgh Pirates beat the Cincinnati Reds 3-1 on Sunday.
Cincinnati got eight of its 10 hits against Williams, but the right-hander wiggled his way out of every jam. He struck out five and walked one in his first win since Aug. 7.
“You make your biggest pitches of the game out of the stretch,” he said. “Those are the pitches that hold the most merit. It was a 1-0 ballgame. … It could have been a 2-1 game, 3-1 game with one swing of the bad. It was just having no panic and using that sinker at the bottom of the zone.”
Williams has allowed just two earned runs over 20 innings in his last three outings. It was his 22nd start after beginning the year in the bullpen, and his 4.02 ERA as a starter leads the team.
“The fastball to the four corners is working really well for him,” manager Clint Hurdle said. “He’s moving his fastball around and his slider was effective today. He’s using his changeup and his curveball for different looks, which has given him a four-pitch mix that’s legit. He’s throwing strikes, keeping the ball down when he wants to and elevating when he wants to.”
Felipe Rivero worked a rocky ninth for his 17th save. Scooter Gennett scored on second baseman Max Moroff’s error, but Jose Peraza bounced into a game-ending forceout at home.
Cincinnati went 1 for 10 with runners in scoring position and left 10 runners on base. The last-place Reds managed just one run while dropping the last two games of the weekend series.
The Pirates jumped in front on Mercer’s solo drive in the third inning against Sal Romano. Moroff doubled and scored on Jordan Luplow’s single in the sixth, and Starling Marte added a solo shot in the seventh.
Romano (4-6) allowed two runs, one earned, and four hits in 5 2/3 innings. He struck out two and walked four.
Romano departed after speaking with trainers. He had developed a cut on his throwing hand that made it difficult for him to throw his breaking ball.
“I decided to pull him out of the game,” manager Bryan Price said. “I thought today might have been his best stuff. Certainly it was his best velocity. Really good fastball command.”