D#039;Amico, Stairs beat Reds, 8-5

Published 12:00 am Thursday, September 18, 2003

PITTSBURGH - Jeff D'Amico finally felt comfortable at home again.

D'Amico won at PNC Park for the first time in more than two months, and Matt Stairs homered as the Pittsburgh Pirates beat the Cincinnati Reds 8-5 on Wednesday night.

D'Amico (9-15) was staked to an early lead. He gave up four runs and five hits in 7 1-3 innings for his first win at home since July 6.

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The right-hander struck out eight and walked three before he was removed with runners on first and second with the Pirates leading 7-2.

''I felt like I threw the ball very well and had good location,'' D'Amico said. ''Everything was pretty consistent up until the eighth, and I guess I just ran out of gas a little bit.''

The Reds sent 10 batters to the plate in the eighth, scoring four runs against D'Amico and three relievers. Right-hander Julian Tavares ended the threat and preserved a 7-5 lead by striking out pinch-hitter Dernell Stenson with the bases loaded.

Reds hitters said D'Amico kept them off-balance with his sinker.

''Looking at his numbers, you wouldn't think they are what they are,'' center fielder Ryan Freel said. ''I think he's a great pitcher.''

Tavares got four outs for his ninth save in 12 chances as the Pirates (70-81) staved off clinching their 11th consecutive losing season. The Reds lead the majors with 29 wins in their last at-bat, 15 extra-inning wins and 13 walk-off victories.

They almost had another comeback, but Tavares got Sean Casey to bounce into a game-ending double play.

''That's kind of been the story with these guys,'' manager Dave Miley said. ''It was nice to see them battle back.''

Stairs smashed a 3-2 pitch from reliever Juan Cerros over the right-field stands for his 19th homer in the sixth, putting Pittsburgh up 7-1. The ball stopped just short of rolling into the Allegheny River, where 12 home runs have landed since the stadium opened in 2001.

It was the 199th homer allowed by the Reds this season, breaking a franchise record set two seasons ago.

''I just happened to get on top of one and hit it pretty good,'' Stairs said. ''We really needed it with the way the Reds battled back.''

Tike Redman, 3-for-4 with an RBI and two runs scored, led off the first with a walk and scored on Abraham Nunez's RBI triple. Nunez scored on second baseman D'Angelo Jimenez's throwing error on the play.

Reds starter Seth Etherton (2-4) was removed after the first inning because of stiffness and soreness on the outside of his right forearm. He gave up two hits and two runs, hit a batter and walked one.

Etherton, who sat out the past two seasons because of two shoulder surgeries, said his forearm was throbbing and didn't want to take any chances.

Dan Serafini came on and gave up three runs and eight hits in 4 2-3 innings.

The Pirates made it 3-0 in the fourth, on Redman's RBI single. An inning later, Jack Wilson singled home Stairs to make it 4-0.

Jason Bay hit the Pirates' third triple of the game off Cerros in the sixth to give the Pirates a 5-0 lead. The Pirates hadn't hit three triples in a game since July 7, 1996, against St. Louis.

The Reds spoiled D'Amico's shutout bid with two outs in the sixth on Casey's RBI triple. Right fielder Craig Wilson misplayed Casey's sinking liner, and the ball bounced to the wall. D'Amico struck out Russell Branyan to avoid further damage.

Notes: Pirates LF Reggie Sanders left after the top of the first because of a left oblique strain. He is day to day. Bay pinch hit for Sanders in the bottom of the first and stayed in. … Freel, who has consecutive three-hit games, won't start Thursday because of sore hamstrings. … Branyan had a career-high eight-game hitting streak snapped … Paul Wagner was the last Pirates right-hander to lose more than 15 games, going 5-16 in 1995.