SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — The Pittsburgh Pirates lead the major leagues with 13 shutouts. Trevor Williams was the starting pitcher in seven of them.
Manager Clint Hurdle doesn’t think it’s a coincidence, either.
Williams and two relievers combined on a six-hitter, and the Pirates blanked the San Francisco Giants 4-0 on Saturday night.
“He sets the tone for things,” Hurdle said. “When that fastball has the finish like it had tonight, that’s when you’re seeing the outings that you see him string together. He keeps everybody engaged.”
Williams (10-8) allowed five hits and walked one in seven innings. The right-hander has allowed two runs over his last 29 innings — a 0.62 ERA.
“It’s the work in between starts,” Williams said. “(Pitching coach Ray Searage) and I highlighted stuff that we needed to work on and made it more process-driven. We recognized right away that it was my four-seam and sinker tonight were going to play.”
Williams had been scheduled to pitch a day earlier, but Hurdle went with Clay Holmes to give the rest of the rotation extra rest.
It worked just fine.
“He’s pitching down in the zone and getting a lot of early contact,” Pirates first baseman Josh Bell said. “He keeps us off our feet and keeps us in the dugout.”
Keone Kela and Felipe Vazquez each retired three batters to complete the shutout.
Bell homered for the second time in three days. Elias Diaz added two hits for the Pirates after coming in as an injury replacement for Francisco Cervelli.
The start of the game was delayed for a ceremony honoring home run king Barry Bonds, who became the 10th player in Giants history to have his jersey retired. Several of his former teammates and managers, including Dusty Baker and Jim Leyland, were on hand.
Williams was warming up in right field when Bonds jogged out to greet the fans in the left field stands.
“I felt like such a jerk out there,” Williams said. “It was weird timing. I felt like all the eyeballs were burning a hole through me.”
Buster Posey and Evan Longoria had two hits apiece for San Francisco. The Giants have lost nine of their last 11 home games.
“You could feel the crowd, the energy. We just couldn’t get it going offensively,” San Francisco manager Bruce Bochy said. “The three-run homer, that’s a pretty good punch there.”
Bell continued his strong series since coming off the disabled list earlier in the week. He stopped a 0-for-13 slide with a homer on Thursday, and then had three hits on Friday.
After grounding into a double play in his first at-bat Saturday, Bell hit his eighth homer off Ty Blach (6-7) in the fourth. Bell’s three-run drive came after Gregory Polanco bunted for a leadoff hit and David Freese reached on an infield single.
Blach allowed four runs over four innings in his first start since May 27.
In his first major league appearance since 2016 with Atlanta, Casey Kelly made quite a Giants debut a day after being called up from Triple-A Sacramento.
The right-hander pitched five scoreless innings in relief. He could be a candidate to start Friday at Cincinnati when the Giants need a fifth starter again.
“What a great job he did,” Bochy said. “Really pitched well. He’s been throwing the ball well. That’s why he’s up here.”
The Pirates called up left-hander Buddy Boshers and right-hander Michael Feliz from Triple-A Indianapolis. Right-handers Clay Holmes and Casey Sadley were sent down.
Pirates: Cervelli left in the fourth as a precaution getting hit in the facemask by a foul tip in the first. Cervelli has had concussion issues in the past.
Giants: 1B Brandon Belt (hyperextended knee) began a rehab assignment with Triple-A Sacramento.
Right-hander Dereck Rodriguez (5-1, 2.34 ERA) pitches the series finale for San Francisco. Rodriguez leads NL rookies in ERA and is tied for second in wins. Right-hander Joe Musgrove (4-6, 3.41 ERA) goes for the Pirates.
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