Williams pitches 3-hitter, Angels beat Twins 4-0
ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) Jerome Williams kept throwing strikes and inducing ground balls until the Minnesota Twins were finally out of outs.
Williams earned his second major league shutout with a three-hitter, leading the Los Angeles Angels to a 4-0 victory on Tuesday night. His other shutout was on June 27, 2003 with the Giants, a seven-hitter against the Oakland Athletics at San Francisco in his sixth big league start.
"I just went out there and pitched. That's all I did - throw strikes and get people out," Williams said. "I was attacking the zone with first-pitch strikes. If I get that first pitch over, I have everything to work off of after that. I also was throwing my cutter and sinker, keeping the ball down and making those guys hit ground balls. But I didn't realize what was going on until I had two outs in the ninth."
Williams (2-1) threw 109 pitches, striking out six and retiring 18 of his last 19 batters to finish in an economical 2 hours, 10 minutes. It was the third complete game in 81 career starts for the 30-year-old right-hander from Honolulu.
"We pretty much didn't have much a chance against Mr. Williams out there," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. "He pretty much ate us up and made quick work of us. He was throwing a nice little cutter and two-seamer, and he never really centered the ball. We didn't square up all night long."
The Angels' No.5 starter faced only one batter over the minimum before walking Denard Span with two out in the ninth. Alexi Casilla grounded into a double play after Span opened the game with a single, and Span was picked off first base to end the third. Span's two hits extended his career-best hitting streak to 12 games.
"Jerome missed a lot of spring training with a pulled hamstring, but the fact that we didn't need a fifth starter until April 15 really helped him a lot," manager Mike Scioscia said. "I mean, we had some guys throwing the ball well, but we really felt that based on what Jerome did at the end of last year - and how well he looked in his rehab starts - he was the guy we wanted to get first crack at the fifth spot. And he's taken advantage of it.
"You need five starters. But the fact that Jerome is number five I don't think is indicative of how well he's pitched for us," Scioscia added. "This guy could be in a lot of rotations in the major leagues - and with a little higher seeding. After a rough start in New York, he's really bounced back. He's shown that he can make pitches and that his stuff plays in the big leagues."
Torii Hunter homered for the fourth time in five games and Howie Kendrick also went deep against struggling Francisco Liriano, but Albert Pujols went 0 for 4 with a run-scoring groundout. The three-time NL MVP and two-time home run champ, who had 445 in his previous 11 seasons with St. Louis and hit a career-best 49 in 2006, has gone a career-worst 31 games and 125 at-bats since his last one on Sept. 22, 2011.
Pujols, who signed a 10-year, $240 million contract in December as a free agent, hit seven homers during spring training - including a tape-measure shot at Dodger Stadium that was estimated at 441 feet in his final swing of the exhibition schedule.
Liriano (0-4) gave up four runs and seven hits in 5 1-3 innings. The left-hander surrendered five earned runs in each of his previous five appearances, including a six-batter relief stint in his final outing of last season after missing most of the final five weeks with a strain in the back of his left shoulder.
Liriano has given up 24 earned runs, 32 hits and 16 walks over 21 2-3 innings in his five starts, along with a 9.97 ERA. He would be 0-5 this year if the Twins hadn't turned a 6-0 deficit into a 10-9 victory against the Angels on April 12 at Target Field - leaving him with a no-decision.
"The result wasn't very good, but I feel like I'm making better pitches than last time," Liriano said. "I feel more consistent throwing strikes and I think things are getting better. I made a few adjustments - but I also made a few mistakes."
Hunter, a teammate of Liriano's for three seasons in Minnesota, drove his 1-0 changeup to left-center leading off the second. Two batters later, Kendrick homered into the left field bullpen on the same count.
"When I was with the Twins, he was throwing 96, 97 with a slider that was biting. He had a couple of injuries, but he's still bringing it up - sometimes to 94 or 95," Hunter said. "But sometimes I think he leaves the ball up, and that's probably it. Other than the four runs we got, he settled down and kept the ball down and tried to minimize the damage."
NOTES: Liriano is 7-9 with a 5.28 ERA in 23 starts since his no-hitter against the White Sox on May 3, 2011 at Chicago. ... Liriano has yet to complete six innings this season. Last year, he was 9-0 with 2.32 ERA in 13 starts when he made it through the sixth. ... The Twins have lost eight of nine games and have a major league-worst 6-17 record. ... Hunter's three RBIs in Monday's 4-3 win prevented the Angels from going the entire month of April without any of their players in double digits. ... Minnesota has been outscored by a combined 55-15 margin through the second, third and fourth innings.
Updated May 2, 2012