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It Seems Like Old Times for Clemens

Astro pitcher improves to 9-0 and wins the 319th game of his career in leading Houston over Seattle, 1-0.

June 09, 2004|From Associated Press

SEATTLE — Roger Clemens became the oldest pitcher to win his first nine decisions, giving up three hits in 6 2/3 shutout innings Tuesday night to lead the Houston Astros over the Seattle Mariners, 1-0.

The 41-year-old Clemens (9-0), backed by Morgan Ensberg's seventh-inning sacrifice fly off Joel Pineiro (1-8), got his 319th win to move past Phil Niekro into sole possession of 14th place on the career list.

The six-time Cy Young Award winner struck out seven, increasing his total to 4,187, and walked a season-high five. Clemens improved to 23-14 against Seattle, the most wins by a pitcher against the Mariners.

A crowd of 34,238 gave Clemens a standing ovation when he left in the seventh inning.

Houston's 1-0 lead held up when Brad Lidge got the final out of the seventh and escaped a jam in the eighth.

Lidge gave up a leadoff triple in the eighth to John Olerud, but got Bret Boone on a fly to shallow right, then struck out Scott Spiezio and pinch-hitter Dave Hansen. The Mariners, who had won three in a row, stranded 12 runners.

Octavio Dotel pitched the ninth for his 10th save in 12 chances. Seattle put runners on first and second with two out in the ninth on singles by Dan Wilson and Randy Winn, but Dotel struck out Edgar Martinez.

Pineiro lost his seventh consecutive decision despite nearly matching Clemens. Pineiro gave up three hits in eight innings, struck out four and walked three.

Houston scored in the seventh after Jeff Bagwell singled and Jeff Kent walked. The runners moved up on Lance Berkman's fly to deep center, and Bagwell tagged when Ensberg flied to shallow left.

Winn made the catch and threw to Wilson, who made the tag on Bagwell at the plate before the ball rolled loose. Bagwell overslid, but alertly jumped back to the plate just as Pineiro picked up the ball and barely missed tagging him out.

Seattle almost tied it in the eighth when Olerud reached third because center fielder Craig Biggio misjudged the ball by coming in too close. It soared over him and rolled to the wall.

Biggio was not charged with an error.

Clemens made it interesting too. He opened the seventh by hitting Hiram Bocachica with a pitch, and Bocachica made a great play by sliding into Jose Vizcaino to break up a likely double play when Ichiro Suzuki grounded to shortstop.

That was it for Clemens, who threw 118 pitches.

Clemens began to miss in the fifth, when Seattle loaded the bases with two out.

Martinez had fans on their feet when he lofted the first pitch from Clemens to right field, but it was a harmless fly.

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