Williams' solid outing lifts Phillies past Mariners

Recent addition deals seven-plus solid frames in second start with club

Williams' solid outing lifts Phillies past Mariners

PHILADELPHIA -- Jerome Williams didn't appear to be the prettiest addition, even for a starting rotation starving for help.

A 6.04 ERA in 47 2/3 innings prompted Williams' release from the Astros in June. Two starts, 18 hits and 11 earned runs later, he was dismissed from another struggling pitching staff, the Rangers. But in a small sample size -- two outings spanning 12 1/3 innings -- since being claimed off waivers by the Phillies on Aug. 10, Williams has lived up to the modest expectations, and then some.

The journeyman right-hander threw seven-plus innings of one-run ball and Andres Blanco hit a three-run homer to power Philadelphia to a 4-1 victory and halt the streaking Mariners on Monday night at Citizens Bank Park. It was Williams' first Interleague win since June 13, 2004. The 3,718-day span marks the longest duration between Interleague wins in Major League history.

"Obviously my game plan wasn't really working early in the year. That's why I'm on my third team," Williams said. "So we're just using the same weapons that I have but just moving the ball everywhere and anywhere."

Williams allowed three hits and three walks while striking out four. He has a 2.19 ERA through his first two starts as a Phillie, less than a month after posting a 9.90 ERA in two outings with Texas.

"Pretty stress-free outing for him," Phillies manager Ryne Sandberg said. "He was able to move the pitches around. Second, third time through the lineup, mixed in some offspeed pitches. Threw strikes with all his pitches. Outstanding job.

"He spots his fastball real well. He has movement on his fastball on both sides of the plate. Mixes pitches well with his secondary stuff. But he's got good movement on the ball. He can pitch to contact with that, resulting in some ground balls and fly ball outs."

When asked about his recent success in Philly compared to the woes he's endured elsewhere this year, Williams attributed it to the player giving him the signals.

"With [Carlos Ruiz] behind the plate, I'm not shaking [him off] at all," Williams said. "I'm trusting him and he's been around a lot and I'm just going to trust him."

Williams tempted fate by walking the leadoff man in three innings, but in each instance, the runner never advanced past first base. Williams' counterpart, Roenis Elias, was even more generous in his issuing of bases.

Elias walked six batters and hit another, needing 90 pitches to get through four innings. Still, the Phillies only cashed in once -- a Marlon Byrd RBI double in the third -- against Seattle's starter, but their patience at the plate spelled an early exit for Elias.

After stranding nine runners through the first four innings, the Phillies finally broke through with a big hit against the Mariners' bullpen. Reliever Dominic Leone allowed a double and a walk with one out in the fifth, and Blanco followed with his fourth homer in 622 career at-bats to make it 4-0. It was Blanco's first home run since July 1, 2011.

"It was a changeup. Just a bad pitch," Leone said. "It's just one pitch, honestly. Notoriously, that guy -- I don't know his stats off the top of my head -- but it's his first homer in three years or something. But it just goes to show you, you leave one over the middle and someone is going to make you pay and that's just how it was."

Blanco was making a spot start in place of Jimmy Rollins, who was given the day off.

"I know what is my situation, what is my role on the team, and I have to be ready for any moment at any situation that they need me," Blanco said.

Seattle scraped together its run in the eighth. Williams hit the leadoff hitter before Ken Giles relieved him, only to surrender an RBI double on the third batter to face him.

With runners on second and third and one out, Robinson Cano came to the plate in the next at-bat with just one strikeout over his last 69 plate appearances. But Giles swiftly set Cano down on three consecutive sliders and ended the threat by getting Kendrys Morales swinging on another slider.

"That was real big," Williams said. "Key situation, runner on second and third... Came in and shut the door."

As for Williams, a (second) change of scenery and the chance to work with a veteran catcher has "skyrocketed" his confidence.

"I was hard-headed [with the Astros and Rangers]," Williams said. "I wanted to do it my way and my way got me away from two teams. And right now, I'm with this team, and it's night and day."

Erik Bacharach is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.