BALTIMORE — Aware of the way the Boston Red Sox support him with runs, unbeaten Roger Clemens had little to fear when the Baltimore Orioles took a 1-0 lead.
"I was just hoping to hold onto that 1-0 deficit and go from there," Clemens said after he posted his 14th victory, allowing seven hits and striking out 11 while pitching into the ninth inning of a 5-3 decision Friday night.
"I was disappointed when I let them back in the game in the seventh," Clemens said. "But it's tough when you face the same team twice in a week."
Clemens was lifted after the first two batters singled in the ninth, with Joe Sambito and Bob Stanley retiring the side without any runs scoring.
"I was sluggish when I was warming up," Clemens said, "and I didn't start feeling good until the third inning, and I ended up throwing better from the third to the seventh."
Clemens, the American League leader with 125 strikeouts, fanned only two batters in the first 2 innings, then set down seven of the next 13 Orioles on strikes.
Clemens is one victory away from tying the American League record for victories at the start of the season. The record is shared by Dave McNally of Baltimore in 1969 and Cleveland's Johnny Allen in 1937.
The major league record of 19 was set by Rube Marquard of the New York Giants in 1912.
Clemens walked Eddie Murray, who had two solo homers in the game, for his first walk of the game leading off the ninth. A single followed and Clemens gave way to Sambito. Sambito got one out and Stanley finished for his 12th save.
He gave up only two earned runs, and kept the league's best earned-run average at 2.18.
Clemens trailed, 1-0, on a second-inning homer by Murray before the Red Sox scored three two-out runs in the sixth. The Orioles rallied to within 4-3 in the seventh, but the Red Sox added a run in the ninth.
Baltimore starter Ken Dixon (6-6) yielded a leadoff double by Marty Barrett and then retired 15 consecutive batters before Rich Gedman and Ed Romero singled to open the sixth.
With the runners taking off on a 3-2 pitch, right fielder Jim Dwyer doubled Gedman off second after grabbing a liner by Barrett, and it appeared Dixon would get out of trouble.
But a single through the middle by Wade Boggs sent Romero to third. Bill Buckner, Jim Rice and Don Baylor followed with RBI singles, finishing Dixon.
Tony Armas hit his second homer off reliever Rich Bordi in the seventh for Boston, which has averaged almost seven runs a game for Clemens this season.
Murray's leadoff homer in the second, his 10th, was the first allowed by Clemens in his last five starts. The 23-year-old right-hander then retired 11 in a row before Larry Sheets singled in the fifth.
The Orioles threatened to end Clemens' streak after Murray's second homer in the seventh, making it 4-3 on a two-out double by Sheets. But Clemens made pinch-hitter Mike Young his 10th strikeout victim.
The Red Sox then added a run in the ninth on a double by Gedman and a single by Barrett.
The appearance of Clemens and a hat giveaway promotion attracted 52,159 spectators, the second largest regular-season crowd in Baltimore history.