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Trachsel two-hits Bucs |

Trachsel two-hits Bucs

Joe Rutter
| Thursday, October 4, 2001 12:00 a.m

NEW YORK – No Piazza. No Zeile. No Alfonzo. No Ventura. No Ordonez. No Payton.

No problem for the New York Mets.

One night after the Pirates eliminated the Mets from the National League East playoff chase, they faced a lineup that wouldn’t have looked formidable even in a spring training ‘B’ game.

Still, that didn’t stop the Mets from snapping the Pirates’ two-game winning streak and putting them on the verge of a 100-loss season Wednesday night with a 3-0 victory at Shea Stadium.

Steve Trachsel (11-13) pitched a two-hit shutout, giving up singles to Aramis Ramirez in the first inning and pinch-hitter Adam Hyzdu in the eighth. He struck out seven and walked two while pitching his first complete game of the season and first shutout since May 6, 2000.

Desi Relaford and former Pirates first baseman Mark Johnson hit solo homers off Pirates starter Todd Ritchie (11-15). Johnson also hit a sacrifice fly off Ritchie, who pitched seven innings in his final start of the season.

With the loss, the Pirates need to sweep a three-game series from the Chicago Cubs this weekend at Wrigley Field to avoid the seventh 100-loss season in franchise history and the first such occurrence since 1985.

That is the only significance to the series since the Cubs were eliminated from playoff consideration Tuesday.

The prospect of losing 100 games doesn’t bother Pirates manager Lloyd McClendon.

‘That doesn’t enter the equation,’ McClendon said. ‘What’s the difference between 99 and 100• It’s still a bad year. I’m just trying to get better. I can’t worry about 100 losses. Statisticians may put importance on it but not me.’

Having said that, McClendon isn’t going to allow his team to coast through the final weekend, either.

‘I’m going to try to win every one of them,’ he said.

It looked the like the Pirates might sneak off with their first three-game series sweep at Shea Stadium since 1994. After all, Mike Piazza, Todd Zeile, Edgardo Alfonzo, Robin Ventura, Rey Ordonez and Jay Payton were nowhere to be found in the starting lineup, giving to the likes of Vance Wilson, Joe McEwing, Jorge Velandia, Relaford and Johnson.

But Relaford gave the Mets a 1-0 lead two batters into the first inning, homering to right field. Johnson led off the second inning with a line-drive homer to right for a 2-0 lead. The Mets had only one hit off Ritchie after the third, a single by Tsuyoshi Shinjo in the sixth that preceded Johnson’s sacrifice fly.

Ritchie finished his season much the way he began it – with a losing streak. Ritchie, who began the year 0-8, lost his third consecutive decision.

In spite of that slow start and finish, Ritchie established career highs with 33 starts and 207{1/3} innings pitched and tied his career best of 124 strikeouts. He also lowered his ERA from 4.81 last season to 4.47.

‘I wish I had gotten to at least .500, but that’s the way it goes,’ Ritchie said. ‘Starting 0-8 was a little too much. I don’t care to try that again. I want to start better next season.’

McClendon offered a more positive outlook on Ritchie’s season.

‘Todd persevered this year,’ McClendon said. ‘I wish and hope all my pitchers come back next year with his type of ethic, character and determination to win. If they do, we’ll be fine.’

Trachsel (11-13) also recovered from a slow start. He had a 1-9 record on June 24 and was 2-10 heading into the All-Star break. Since then, he has gone 9-3 with a 2.74 ERA in 14 starts.

The only time he allowed a runner to second base last night was in the first inning. With two outs, Brian Giles walked and Ramirez singled cleanly through the left side of the infield. Trachsel struck out Mackowiak to end the inning.

Ramirez’s hit was the only one the Pirates had until the eighth when Hyzdu singled with two outs. In between, Trachsel retired 21 of 22 batters, a leadoff walk to Warren Morris in the fourth being the only blemish.

‘Our guys pitched well, but unfortunately the guy on the other side of the field was a little better,’ McClendon said.

Joe Rutter is a Tribune-Review steelers reporter. You can contact Joe via Twitter .

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