D’Amico, Bucs fall short |

D’Amico, Bucs fall short

Joe Rutter

NEW YORK – Jeff D’Amico came up short Wednesday night against the New York Mets, and it looks like he is going to come up short in the wallet.

In his final start of the season, D’Amico took over the National League lead in losses when the Pirates dropped a 5-3 decision at Shea Stadium.

The Mets scored three two-out runs in the fourth inning to snap a 2-2 tie and hand D’Amico his 16th loss, which is one more than San Diego’s Brian Lawrence and Cincinnati’s Danny Graves.

D’Amico, who allowed five runs and nine hits in five innings, lost four of his final five starts.

“You always want to pitch well in your last game of the year,” D’Amico said. “I’m disappointed I didn’t do that.”

By failing to reach 30 starts this year — D’Amico’s start last night was his 29th — D’Amico will fail to earn the final $125,000 of incentives built into his contract.

The one-year, $750,000 deal that D’Amico signed in the offseason included a chance to earn an additional $750,000 in incentives based upon starts. D’Amico accumulated $625,000 in incentives and would have earned an additional $125,000 for making a 30th start.

Had the Pirates not reconfigured their rotation, D’Amico could have gotten start No. 30 on Sunday. He was scheduled to pitch Tuesday night, which would have put him on track to also pitch the season finale. But manager Lloyd McClendon decided to have D’Amico switch places with Kip Wells. It will be Wells working Sunday afternoon in Chicago.

McClendon said he was unaware of the incentive clause in D’Amico’s contract.

“I don’t know it, and I don’t want to know it,” he said. “I don’t need those type of headaches.”

D’Amico missed out on a chance for an additional start when he was scratched minutes before his Aug. 26 start because of flu-like symptoms.

D’Amico, however, was more concerned about some other numbers — his 9-16 record and 4.77 ERA.

“It wasn’t very stellar,” D’Amico said about his season. “I felt like I threw well at times, but at 9-16 it can’t be all that good.”

Until this season, the most starts D’Amico had made in a season were 23. He did it in 1997 and 2000 with the Milwaukee Brewers.

Keeping D’Amico healthy the entire year was one of McClendon’s objectives. He did so by controlling D’Amico’s pitch count earlier in the year and giving him extra rest between starts.

That enabled D’Amico to pitch a career-high 175 1/3 innings. He pitched two complete games and his one shutout, the fourth of his career.

“Obviously, I’m happy with that,” D’Amico said. “I still feel good and, hopefully, my arm is good.”

D’Amico’s numbers weren’t flashy, but he was a dependable back-of-the-rotation starter.

“He added stability to our rotation,” McClendon said. “Most of his starts were quality. When you have young starters, you need someone who you know what you’re going to get from one outing to the next.”

D’Amico is a free agent at the end of the year. If the Pirates try to re-sign him, they figure to have more competition than they did last winter when they signed him to a minor-league contract during mini-camp.

“He’s a guy that takes the ball on a consistent basis,” McClendon said. “The run support wasn’t the greatest for him, particularly in the first half. His record is not indicative of how well he’s pitched this year.”

D’Amico allowed leadoff doubles in the first and second innings. Both runners came around to score, giving the Mets a 2-0 lead. The Pirates answered with two runs in the third on Jason Kendall’s RBI triple and Matt Stairs’ RBI single off Mets starter Steve Trachsel (16-10).

The Mets took the lead for good against D’Amico in the fourth. A bases-loaded walk, the second walk in a row issued by D’Amico, forced in the go-ahead run. Timo Perez followed with a two-run single for his third hit.

Jack Wilson’s RBI single in the eighth pulled the Pirates within 5-3. With the tying run on first, pinch-hitter J.J. Davis struck out to end the threat.

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