Pirates end long road trip against lowly White Sox

The Pittsburgh Pirates will wrap up a 10-day, nine-game road trip when they play the Chicago White Sox in a series finale Wednesday afternoon at Guaranteed Rate Field in Chicago.

Pittsburgh (20-16) has posted a 3-5 record on the trip, which has included stops in Washington, Milwaukee and Chicago. The Pirates have played the second-most road games (21) in the big leagues this season behind only the Colorado Rockies (23), and they will return to Pittsburgh for 15 of their next 19 games.

But first comes one more view from a visitors’ dugout.

Chicago (9-24) will close out a six-game homestand as it looks for signs that it is breaking out of a season-long slump. The White Sox have dropped four straight games and eight of nine and have the third-worst record in baseball behind the Baltimore Orioles and Cincinnati Reds.

Pirates right-hander Trevor Williams (4-2, 2.63 ERA) is scheduled to make his eighth start of the season. He has proved to be a dependable cog in the rotation as he has finished six innings in five of his first seven outings.

Williams, who never has faced the White Sox, is 2-1 with a 2.28 ERA in four starts on the road. He does not throw as hard as many of his counterparts, but he thrives with a mix of pitches and an ability to keep hitters off balance.

“Everyone’s game is different,” Williams said to The Athletic. “I have to be more cerebral and do my homework. So I don’t have sexy stuff. I don’t have a (mean) slider. I don’t have a fastball that lights up the radar gun.

“I have to execute my pitches well and sequence to the hitter. I have to plan on over-aggressiveness when the hitters see a 91 mph fastball. It’s a game of adjustments. I have to stick to my strengths and go from there.”

Meanwhile, the White Sox will turn to right-hander Reynaldo Lopez (0-2, 2.43 ERA) for his seventh start of 2018. Lopez has allowed two earned runs or fewer five times in his first six starts.

The 24-year-old Dominican Republic native has faced the Pirates once before in his career. He fired 5 1/3 scoreless innings with two walks, six strikeouts and three hits allowed on Sept. 24, 2016, and got the win as a rookie for the Nationals in 2016.

Chicago acquired Lopez before the start of last season as part of a trade package for outfielder Adam Eaton, and he has settled in quickly as a likely long-term fixture of the starting rotation. Lopez credits White Sox pitching coach Don Cooper with aiding his improvement.

“He knows a lot,” Lopez said through a translator to the Daily Herald. “He has a lot of experience. He tells me how to take advantage of my abilities and how to improve myself at this level. I feel very grateful to be working with him.”

The White Sox are 0-3 in interleague play this season and have a half-dozen interleague games left this month. Pittsburgh is 7-2 in nine interleague games, which is most in the majors.

Pirates first baseman Josh Bell has enjoyed his team’s frequent games against American League opponents. He is hitting .317 (33-for-104) with five home runs and 21 RBIs in 31 career interleague contests.

White Sox third baseman Yolmer Sanchez is sporting a six-game hitting streak. During that time, he is hitting .462 (12-for-26) with three doubles, two triples and four RBIs.