Williams continues to improve with sharp outing

Bucs righty allows one run over six frames vs. D-backs

Williams continues to improve with sharp outing

PITTSBURGH -- Trevor Williams' game plan heading into his start against the D-backs was simple. The Pirates right-hander wanted to attack the D-backs lineup with four-seam and two-seam fastballs early in the count. And then he planned on delivering sliders to the D-backs right-handed batters.

Williams made the execution look easy too. He limited one of the best offenses in baseball to just four hits and one run in the Pirates' 4-3 walk-off victory over the D-backs Monday at PNC Park.

"His best outing up here," Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said. "Really good effort by Trevor today."

Hurdle on walk-off win

Williams earned his first quality start on Monday, needing only 67 pitches to get through six innings. He could have easily pitched a seventh, but in a 1-1 tie game the Pirates elected to pinch-hit David Freese to lead off the seventh.

"We had to score runs. I am not a threat at the plate ... yet," Williams said. "We needed to throw that first punch. With Freese coming up, it's a lot bigger punch than I would give."

It hasn't always been this easy for Williams. He allowed seven hits and six earned runs in three innings in his first start against the Dodgers on May 8. But he has steadily improved since then, striking out six batters while allowing three earned runs in five innings in his last start against the Braves.

"Every time I am out there, I am learning something," Williams said. "I really got hurt in L.A. by not making my pitches, not executing my pitches. We learned from it. It's a long way behind me now. And we are just kind of building on it from start to start."

Williams, Stewart on the 4-3 win

Williams had to be savvy against an Arizona offense that ranked third in the Majors in runs and second in hits. But he faced the D-backs on May 13, and he noticed that their batters liked to swing early, and he knew that some of their right-handed batters were susceptible to sliders.

Williams' sliders landed in the outside corner and induced four groundouts. He threw 19 first-pitch strikes against the 24 batters he faced.

"It's hard to hit when you're behind in the count," Williams said. "I know that if I do go 0-1, I can be a little more aggressive and kind of work off that. It was really just the two-seamer and four-seamer working early in the count."

All that Williams needed to cap a strong start was run support. His catcher Chris Stewart came through in the seventh with a two-run triple. And Andrew McCutchen delivered the walk-off homer in the ninth.

Stewart's two-run triple

"Trevor Williams went out there and threw a great game," Stewart said. "It's just a matter of getting those runs across for him."

Jonathan Toye is a reporter for MLB.com based in Pittsburgh. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.