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”Baseball kicks your (behind),” Williams said. ”The highs are so high, and the lows are so low. You have to stay even-keeled.”
Williams bounced back from recent struggles by pitching one-hit ball over seven innings and two Pittsburgh Pirates relievers closed out a two-hitter in a 1-0 victory over the Milwaukee Brewers on Monday night.
Williams (6-4) struck out seven and walked two for his first victory in a month and after he had allowed a combined 12 runs in six innings in his previous two starts. Jordy Mercer drove in the lone run with a seventh-inning double, and the Pirates won for the fourth time in five games.
The Brewers entered the day leading the NL Central but suffered their third straight loss.
The only hit off Williams was a single by Jonathan Villar with two outs in the fourth. The hit followed a walk to Hernan Perez, and the duo executed a double steal before Erik Kratz struck out to end the inning.
Pittsburgh manager Clint Hurdle thought fastball command made the difference for Williams.
”Up, down, in, out. It was just an outstanding performance,” Hurdle said.
Williams had gone 0-2 in five starts since beating the Chicago White Sox on May 15.
”He hit his spots,” Milwaukee right fielder Christian Yelich said. ”He was throwing everything for strikes. When a guy is doing that and he’s not really missing over the plate much, it’s a tough night.”
Kyle Crick pitched a perfect eighth inning for Pittsburgh. Yelich singled off closer Felipe Vazquez to open the ninth, ending a string of 13 straight Brewers retired. Vazquez retired the next three hitters for his 14th save in 18 opportunities.
Francisco Cervelli drew a one-out walk in the Pirates’ seventh and advanced to third on Josh Bell’s single. Josh Hader relieved Jhoulys Chacin and struck out Gregory Polanco, but Mercer followed by doubling down the left-field line to score Cervelli.
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The run was charged to Chacin (6-2), who had won his previous six decisions and not lost in 13 starts since April 4 against St. Louis. Chacin allowed six hits, struck out two and walked two.
Cervelli had two hits to snap a 0-for-13 skid.
”I feel like I was throwing the ball well,” Chacin said. ”I was making pitches when I had to. In the last inning, I gave up the hit, but I was more frustrated that I walked Cervelli. That was the guy I couldn’t get out.”
TRIBUTE TO UECKER
As a surprise tribute to Bob Uecker, the Brewers traveling party dressed in loud sportscoats – popularized by the Hall of Fame broadcaster during his frequent guest appearances on The Tonight Show – for the flight from Milwaukee to Pittsburgh on Sunday night.
Manager Craig Counsell said he had hoped to replicate an outfit Uecker once wore that included a turtleneck sweater with a belt and a pair of bellbottom slacks. Alas, Counsell came up empty in his search for such garb.
The Pirates activated right-handed reliever Richard Rodriguez from the 10-day disabled list, recalled infielder/outfielder Jose Osuna from Triple-A Indianapolis and optioned right-handed reliever Dovydas Neverauskas and catcher Jacob Stallings to Indianapolis.
Brewers: 3B Travis Shaw (sore right wrist) was given the night off after being injured Sunday during a swing in a loss to Philadelphia.
Pirates: Rodriguez had been out since June 7 with right shoulder inflammation.
Brewers: RHP Freddy Peralta (1-0, 3.72 ERA) is expected to be recalled from Triple-A Colorado Springs to start Tuesday night. The rookie made two starts with the Brewers earlier this season, including striking out 13 in 5 2/3 innings at Colorado on May 13 in his major league debut, and is 6-1 with a 2.75 ERA in 12 starts with Colorado Springs.
Pirates: RHP Jameson Taillon (4-5, 3.94) is 2-1 with a 2.73 ERA in his last four starts and 1-3 with a 3.47 ERA in seven career starts against Milwaukee.
Yu Darvish plans to throw a bullpen Thursday in his next step toward rejoining the Chicago Cubs‘ rotation.
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The Japanese right-hander has been on the disabled list since May 26 because of tendinitis in his right triceps.
”I don’t feel too bad today,” Darvish said through a translator. ”I wasn’t 100 percent on Monday and it’s just part of my rehab process. In terms of strength and endurance, I’m fine.”
Darvish is back at Dodger Stadium for the first time since his awful outing for Los Angeles in Game 7 of the World Series last year. He allowed five runs and got only five outs as the Houston Astros clinched in front of the L.A. fans. He was equally ineffective in losing Game 3, giving up four runs in 1 2/3 innings.
Darvish, who joined the Dodgers at the July 31 trade deadline, said the move from Texas revived his passion for the game. Before the trade, he had told his wife that he might retire when his contract with the Rangers ended.
”Joining the Dodgers, I had a chance to find myself and be around a very supportive group of people. Baseball was really fun with the Dodgers,” Darvish said. ”The Dodgers really took care of me.”
Darvish became a free agent after the World Series and although he wanted to stay with the Dodgers, he ended up signing a $126 million, six-year contract with the Cubs.
But he has yet to produce the kind of results that demanding Cubs fans expect. Darvish has a 4.95 ERA in eight starts and has been on the disabled list twice.
”I want to contribute to the team a lot more and to winning in general,” he said. ”Rather than what I want, it’s more about what my body feels.”
AP freelancer Olivia Sandusky contributed to this report.