By Will Graves
PITTSBURGH (AP) — Trevor Williams allowed one hit over seven dominant innings to outduel Detroit's Jordan Zimmermann and lead the Pittsburgh Pirates to a 3-0 victory on Monday night.
Williams (5-4) struck out five and walked two, giving up only a leadoff single to Brian McCann in the third. Williams threw a career-high 107 pitches and never allowed a runner to third base as the Pirates won their third straight to pull within four games of idle Chicago in the NL Central.
Francisco Cervelli gave the Pirates the early lead with an RBI double off Zimmermann (7-9) in the second. John Jaso provided some late insurance with a pinch-hit two-run homer in the seventh.
Zimmermann struck out three and walked two in seven innings. The Tigers have dropped three straight following a four-game winning streak.
The Pirates are hanging around the fringe of the NL Central race thanks in part to the back end of the starting rotation. Williams has steadily improved following a bumpy start to his first full year in the majors. The 25-year-old's ERA soared to 7.98 after getting rocked by Los Angeles on May 8. It now stands at 4.17 following the best start of his career.
The Tigers hit the ball hard at times. Ian Kinsler hit a ball to the warning track in right field with two outs and McCann on base in the third. Pittsburgh center fielder Andrew McCutchen made a beautiful diving grab on a sinking liner by Mikie Mahtook in the sixth, and David Freese made a spinning stop on a grounder by Justin Upton in the seventh.
In between, Williams was in full control. He worked up in the strike zone effectively and threw enough breaking pitches to keep the Tigers off balance.
Zimmermann was nearly as effective. His lone wobble over the first six innings came in the second when he walked Gregory Polanco with one out and Cervelli doubled to the gap in right-center with two outs.
In the seventh, Cervelli walked with two outs and Jaso — who broke out of an 0-for-34 slump on Saturday night — followed with a drive over the wall in right field for his sixth career pinch-hit homer.
Juan Nicasio worked a perfect ninth for his second save in five opportunities.
Tigers: Called up IF Jeimer Candelario from Triple-A Toledo to fill in after putting Jose Iglesias on the bereavement list. Detroit acquired Candelario from the Cubs last week in the trade that sent Justin Wilson and Alex Avila to Chicago.
Tigers: Matthew Boyd (5-5, 5.35 ERA) will look to win his fourth straight decision since returning from a stint at Triple-A Toledo. Boyd is 3-0 with a 4.56 ERA in four starts since being recalled after the All-Star break.
Pirates: Chad Kuhl (4-7, 4.53 ERA) pitched seven shutout innings in his last start against Cincinnati. Kuhl has a 3.00 ERA in four starts since the break.
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