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Trevor Williams strikes out seven in Cubs’ 4-1 win over Pirates

Williams allowed one run and three hits in six innings. He also had the first multihit game of his career.

“I loved his tempo, his aggressiveness, first-pitch strikes,” Cubs manager David Ross said of pitcher Trevor Williams. “A really nice performance by Trevor.”
“I loved his tempo, his aggressiveness, first-pitch strikes,” Cubs manager David Ross said of pitcher Trevor Williams. “A really nice performance by Trevor.”
Gene J. Puskar/AP

PITTSBURGH — It has been a long month-plus for Cubs right-hander Trevor Williams, who has been searching to find his form as the team’s rotation has started to pitch better recently.

And where better to have a bounce-back start than PNC Park, where he spent his first five seasons as a Pirate.

Williams was masterful in the 4-1 victory Wednesday against the Pirates, throwing six innings of one-run ball in arguably his best performance as a Cub.

“At this point of the season, you’re trying to go brick by brick, and you’re trying to improve every start to a couple of steps forward without taking some backward,” Williams said.

“So we’re trying to positively move forward.”

The game started with some pressure for Williams (3-2, 5.36 ERA) when Pirates left fielder Ben Gamel drove what appeared to be a routine line drive to right field, but it was misplayed by Joc Pederson, and the ball sailed over his head and rolled to the wall.

The play, ruled a triple by the official scorer, didn’t affect Williams, who pitched around it.

“I loved his tempo, his aggressiveness, first-pitch strikes,” manager David Ross said. “A really nice performance by Trevor.”

Williams pounded the strike zone as he carved up his former club and got soft contact, which helped keep his pitch count low deep into the game.

He induced only nine swings-and-misses but still struck out seven without allowing a walk.

“The changeup looked exceptional off the fastball tonight,” Ross said. “I thought the changeup was getting some really bad swings off of left-handers. The fastball was so deceptive; the other stuff really ticked up today.”

Williams, who allowed three hits, retired 14 in a row before Kevin Newman’s double in the sixth. He allowed his only run later in the inning on a soft opposite-field single.

It was Williams’ first quality start since April 5, when he allowed two runs in six-plus innings, and his first win since April 17.

He also had it going on at the plate, going 2-for-3 in the first multihit game of his career. But Williams wasn’t going to let his night at the dish go to his head. As for what was going through his brain on offense, he didn’t have a detailed game plan to offer.

“I blacked out twice,” Williams said.

Ortega called up; Miller DFA’d

The Cubs purchased the contract of outfielder Rafael Ortega from Triple-A Iowa before the game.

Ortega takes the place of second baseman Nico Hoerner, who was put on the 10-day injured list with a strained left hamstring.

To make room on the 40-man roster for Ortega, the Cubs activated right-hander Shelby Miller from the injured list and designated him for assignment.