ANAHEIM, Calif. >> Jerome Williams (5-3) gave up five runs — four earned — and eight hits over six innings in his eighth start of the season in the Los Angeles Angel’s 6-1 loss to the Pittsburgh Pirates tonight.
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 to lead the Pirates to the victory.
It was Williams’ first start 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.
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 year.
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 Martin.
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.
NOTES: 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.