Williams struggles as Angels fall to Pirates

ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) — Francisco Liriano
took a shutout into the seventh inning, Andrew McCutchen, Pedro Alvarez
and Gaby Sanchez hit solo homers and left fielder Starling Marte threw a
runner out at the plate, leading the Pittsburgh Pirates to a 6-1
victory over the Los Angeles Angels on Saturday night.

Liriano (6-3) allowed a run and seven
hits in 6 2-3 innings, struck out six and walked three. The Angels’ run
came in the seventh, when rookie J.B. Shuck hit a ground-rule double
just inside the right field line and Mike Trout drove him in with a
two-out single on the left-hander’s 104th and final pitch.

Liriano has allowed fewer than three
runs in seven of his nine starts after missing the first 35 games of the
season because of broken bone in his non-throwing arm — the result of a
Christmas Day mishap at his home in the Dominican Republic.

The victory put the Bucs a season-best
15 games over .500 (45-30). After 75 games last season they were 40-35,
but finished with a losing record for an unprecedented 20th straight

Jerome Williams (5-3) gave up five runs
— four earned — and eight hits over six innings in his eighth start of
the season and first since June 12. The right-hander took over the
rotation slot vacated by lefty Jason Vargas, who was placed on the
disabled list Friday because of a blood clot under his pitching arm that
could sideline him from four to six weeks.

Alvarez, who homered his first time up
Friday night against Jered Weaver, did likewise against Williams on a
1-1 pitch. It was the first time in four big league seasons that the
26-year-old third baseman homered in three consecutive games.

The Bucs added two more that inning on
an RBI single by No. 9 hitter Jordy Mercer and a bases-loaded walk to
Russell Martin, the eighth of Martin’s career. One of the runs was
unearned, the result of a fielding error by third baseman Alberto
Callaspo on a slow-hit grounder by Marte that kept the inning alive for

Travis Snider extended the margin to
4-0 in the fourth with an RBI single after a leadoff double by Neil
Walker. McCutchen added his eighth homer in the fifth, and Sanchez
capped the scoring in the eighth against Michael Kohn with a homer off
the left field pole, his sixth.

After striking out four of his first
five batters, Liriano found himself in a jam with runners at the corners
in the third inning before retiring Albert Pujols on a grounder to
second base. The three-time NL MVP is 1 for 15 lifetime against Liriano.

Howie Kendrick, hitting at a .381 clip
over his previous 35 games, legged out a double to right-center with one
out in the Angels’ fourth and was thrown out at the plate as Marte
charged Erick Aybar’s sharp single and made a one-hop peg to Martin. A
two-out walk to Chris Iannetta loaded the bases for Shuck, but Liriano
struck him out after getting a visit from pitching coach Ray Searage.

Shuck started in RF in place of Josh Hamilton, who missed his second
straight game with a sore right wrist. Hamilton is batting just .207.
… Pirates manager Clint Hurdle, whose only season as the Texas
Rangers’ hitting coach coincided with Hamilton’s 2010 AL MVP campaign,
had a chance to reconnect with Angels’ slumping right fielder during
this series. “It was an extremely good visit,” Hurdle said. “I think
there’s a lot of challenges, and he’s in a challenging place. I reminded
him of the strengths and the skills he does have, and also that he
can’t do it alone. There’s some other pretty talented people in that
clubhouse and on that ballfield.” … Liriano is 19-20 with a 4.39 ERA
in 55 starts since his no-hitter on May 3, 2011, with the Minnesota
Twins against the White Sox at Chicago. That remains his only shutout
and complete game in 150 big league starts. … Hurdle played in 18
games at Angel Stadium with the Kansas City Royals when it was still
known as Anaheim Stadium, and was 10 for 46 lifetime. Hurdle’s only home
run at the “Big A” came on May 23, 1980, against Chris Knapp in the
Royals’ 13-9 win. … Williams and Liriano hooked up on May 1 of last
season, with the Angels beating Minnesota 4-0 in Anaheim behind
Williams’ three-hit shutout — only his second in the majors and first
since his 2003 rookie season with San Francisco. … Liriano is 2-4 with
a 5.82 ERA in eight career starts against the Angels.