Pirates look to Williams for innings, win in SD

Field Level Media

Two pitchers on different paths at the moment will be matched Thursday night as the Padres host the Pittsburgh Pirates in the opener of a four-game series at Petco Park in San Diego.

Right-hander Trevor Williams, who was born and raised in San Diego County, will again be asked to take the stress off the Pirates bullpen while Padres lefty Eric Lauer will be looking to rebound from the worst start of his young career while seeking to snap a personal three-game losing streak.

On the eve of Williams' last start, Pirates pitchers gave up 17 runs at St. Louis. The 27-year-old Williams responded last Friday night by holding the Cardinals to one run on nine hits and a walk with five strikeouts in seven innings. The Pirates won the game 2-1.

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Thursday night, Williams (2-1, 3.40 ERA) will be pitching a day after Pirates pitchers gave up 11 runs on 11 hits in an 11-1 loss at Arizona. So Williams will again be asked to pick up a struggling staff.

"It's almost a craftsman out there," Pirates manager Clint Hurdle told reporters of Williams after last Friday's start. "It's a guy in his workshop. He not only threw first-pitch strikes, there's not a whole lot going on when he does."

"Getting deep into games ... the better we can do that as starting pitchers, the better our bullpen is going to be."

Coincidently, pitching deeper into games is something that Padres manager Andy Green has been asking second-year starters Joey Lucchesi and Lauer to do.

Lauer, who enters Thursday night's opener to a seven-game Padres homestand with a 2-4 record and 5.75 ERA, has not pitched deep into games. He has pitched into the sixth only twice in his last five starts and has completed six innings only twice in eight starts.

"We need Eric and Joey to start getting deeper into games to reduce some of the bullpen's workload," Green said recently. "We have two pitchers (Chris Paddack and Matt Strahm) with innings limitations. So it's important that Lauer and Lucchesi go deeper."

Lauer lasted only three innings in his last start last Friday night against the Rockies at Coors Field. He allowed eight runs on eight hits and two walks.

Since working six scoreless innings against the Giants on Opening Day, Lauer is 1-4 with a 6.75 ERA. He has also allowed seven homers in his last seven starts.

Lauer faced the Pirates twice during his rookie season and was 0-1 with a 6.52 ERA, giving up 10 runs (seven earned) on 15 hits and three walks with six strikeouts in 9 2/3 innings. He is 3-6 with a 4.15 ERA in 15 career starts at Petco Park.

Williams, who attended Rancho Bernardo High just north of San Diego, is 0-1 with a 6.75 ERA in two career starts against the Padres -- giving up eight runs on eight hits and two walks with nine strikeouts in 10 2/3 innings. He is 0-1 in his lone start at Petco Park, giving up four runs on four hits and two walks in 4 2/3 innings.

The Padres return to San Diego after being swept in a short two-game series at Dodger Stadium. They have lost three straight and were 1-4 in their first losing road trip of the season. The Padres are only 10-11 at Petco Park this season.

--Field Level Media

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