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Another strong outing for Trevor Williams leads Pirates over Reds

September 30, 2018
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Pirates second baseman Adam Frazier rounds the bases past third base coach Joey Cora after hitting a solo home run during the first inning against the Reds Monday, Sept. 3, 2018, at PNC Park.

Clint Hurdle takes exception to the idea that Trevor Williams has been a “pretty good” pitcher for the Pirates this season.

Williams blew past “pretty good” a few starts ago.

Williams pitched 6 2/3 scoreless innings to continue a torrid second half, Adam Frazier went 4 for 4 and homered, and the Pirates cruised to a 5-1 victory over the Cincinnati Reds on Monday afternoon at PNC Park.

After putting up zeroes in the run column in six of his past nine starts, Williams’ ERA of 3.15 for the season sits squarely among the National League’s top 10. Having allowed a total of four runs in 54 2/3 innings over his past nine starts, his microscopic 0.72 ERA since the All-Star break is tops among all major league pitchers who have started at least four games during that span.

“That’s strong,” Hurdle said. “That’s not pretty good.”

The matchup with the last-place Reds marked a drop in quality of opposition for the Pirates, who started a six-game homestand after returning from a mostly fruitless nine-game road trip to Milwaukee, St. Louis and Atlanta on Sunday night.

Cincinnati’s starter was Matt Harvey, whose 4.97 ERA coming into the game didn’t entice a contender to trade for him before the Aug. 31 waiver deadline.

Harvey was mostly effective in six innings, giving up seven hits and walking none, but Frazier wasn’t impressed.

He gave the Pirates a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first, lining a 1-1 change-up over the right-field wall for his eighth home run of the season. Frazier went 3 for 3 off Harvey, also doubling in the third and singling to lead off the sixth.

He added a two-out, two-run single off reliever Sal Romano to give the Pirates a 5-0 cushion in the seventh.

Since being called up from Indianapolis on July 25, Frazier is hitting .352 with 18 extra-base hits and 20 RBIs in 105 at-bats. Before the call-up, he hit .239 with eight extra-base hits and eight RBIs in 138 at-bats.

Gregory Polanco followed Frazier’s sixth-inning single with a first-pitch drive over the right-field wall to make it 3-0, giving him a career-high 23 home runs, the most for a Pirates right fielder since Bobby Bonilla hit 29 in 1990.

Williams, meanwhile, found himself in some one-out trouble in the first inning when Joey Votto reached on a check-swing roller down the third-base line ,and Scooter Gennett doubled to the right-center gap on the 11th pitch of an at-bat. He struck out Eugenio Suarez and got Scott Schebler to fly out to center to end the threat.

Williams needed 27 pitches to navigate the first-inning obstacle course. He was going to have to improve his efficiency if he planned to run his streak of starts with at least six innings pitched to five.

He did just that in the second, retiring the side with a strikeout and two groundouts to second on a total of six pitches.

From the start of the second until he was pulled with two outs in the seventh after throwing 101 pitches, he allowed just five base runners on three singles, a walk and a hit batter.

The Reds broke up the shutout on a Gennett homer off Kyle Crick in the eighth.

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