Filling in for Taillon, Williams faces Phillies

PITTSBURGH -- It's not how Pittsburgh Pirates right-hander Trevor Williams wanted to get back into starting.

Filling in while Jameson Taillon recovers from surgery for testicular cancer, Williams will make his third start Friday night against the Philadelphia Phillies at PNC Park.

"It's a unique situation," Williams said Thursday. "Unique situations call for unique opportunities. I was ready to fall into that starting role if I needed to again."

Williams (2-2, 6.41 ERA) lost a spring battle for the fifth starting spot to Chad Kuhl and moved to the bullpen without complaint.

In his May 8 start, against the Dodgers in Los Angeles, he allowed eight runs -- six earned -- on seven hits over three innings, with one walk and two strikeouts.

It got better in a start Saturday at Arizona, when Williams went five innings, giving up one run on four hits, with a walk and four strikeouts.

"I've been a starter my entire career," Williams said. "I was a reliever for a year in college and I relieved a little bit at the end of last year and, obviously, the beginning of this year.

"Pitching is just a routine in general. You have a starter routine, and you have a reliever routine. It was familiar territory to fall back into that starter routine."

Williams has never faced the Phillies.

Taillon, meanwhile, has begun light workouts.

"He's come in for maybe a couple hours the past two days," Pittsburgh manager Clint Hurdle said. "He's coming in for a throwing program, a little cardio work. He's chatted a few guys up who got here in time to see him.

"I've been fortunate enough to talk to him. It's great to see him. He's a very upbeat, strong young man. It was good to see the confidence on his face."

Tthe Pirates (18-23) have won two in a row after Adam Frazier drove in four runs during a 10-4 win over the Washington Nationals Thursday.

The Pirates will face a bright spot in the Philadelphia rotation, right-hander Jeremy Hellickson (4-1, 3.71 ERA, 1.10 WHIP).

However, Hellickson, the subject of trade rumors after reports surfaced that the Phillies might entertain offers for him, hasn't been as good in May as he was in April.

In the opening month, he was 4-0 with a 1.80 ERA. This month, he has given up 12 earned runs on 19 hits, including seven homers, in 13 2/3 innings over three starts.

Hellickson took a no-decision Sunday in a 4-3 win in the first game of a doubleheader against Washington. He noted that four of his eight starts have come against the Nationals.

"It's tough to trick a team four times," Hellickson told reporters. "So it'll be nice to get away from them for a little bit."

He is 2-1 with a 2.76 ERA in three career starts against Pittsburgh but has not faced the Pirates this season.

Philadelphia (14-24) fell 8-4 at Texas on Thursday afternoon. The Phillies have lost four in a row and six of seven and have their worst record through 38 games since 2000.

"It's early in the season," Philadelphia manager Pete Mackanin said. "I'm not going to assume we're this bad. I know we're not."
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