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Clemens Extends Astro Streak to 12

Right-hander earns his 326th victory, and Houston hits four first-inning homers to beat Reds, 5-2.

September 09, 2004|From Associated Press

With two World Series rings and plenty of postseason experience over his 21-year career, Roger Clemens knows a lot about winning.

But the Houston Astros' furious push for the playoffs has left even Clemens at a loss for a comparison.

Clemens (16-4) tied Eddie Plank for 11th place on the career victory list with 326, and the Astros hit four first-inning home runs to beat the Cincinnati Reds, 5-2, Wednesday and tie a team record with their 12th consecutive victory.

Houston has won 20 of 23 since Aug. 15 for the best record in the major leagues over that stretch. The Astros are tied with San Francisco atop the National League wild-card standings, half a game ahead of Chicago.

"I've been on clubs throughout my career who've won quite a few in a row," Clemens said, "but I don't know if it's ever been like this."

Jeff Bagwell, Lance Berkman, Craig Biggio and Mike Lamb homered in the first against Jose Acevedo (5-11).

"We're on a nice roll right now," Bagwell said. "It's kind of been amazing to me, all the home runs we're hitting. I've never seen it quite like this."

Clemens won his fourth consecutive start, giving up four hits in seven innings. He gave up a run in the first on Sean Casey's sacrifice fly, and the Reds managed only three singles in the next six innings.

"Give credit to the hitters. They've come alive and made it easier for the pitchers," Clemens said.

Chad Qualls, Mike Gallo and Russ Springer pitched in the eighth, with D'Angelo Jimenez hitting a run-scoring single against Springer.

Brad Lidge got three outs for his 21st save in 24 chances. With runners at the corners and two out, Lidge struck out Juan Castro to end the game.

Acevedo lasted only one inning and six relievers combined to keep Houston scoreless the rest of the way.

"We took a breather," Houston Manager Phil Garner said.

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