Venue: Chase Field
Roger Clemens would never have become a 300-game winner if he received bad luck like this throughout his entire career.
Clemens once again looks for better support from his Houston Astros teammates as they continue their three-game series against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Chase Field on Saturday.
Clemens (2-4, 2.09 ERA) hasn't allowed more than two earned runs in any of his eight outings, but Houston (52-57) has provided him with no runs of support in any of his four losses.
The seven-time Cy Young Award winner pitched his best game of the season against the Diamondbacks (55-54) last weekend and even received run support, but still was denied the win when Houston's bullpen squandered the lead.
Clemens, who turned 44 years old on Friday, allowed one unearned run and two hits while striking out a season-high nine and walking none in seven innings and left with a 5-1 lead. Astros relievers allowed six runs after he left, though, en route to a 7-6 defeat.
"This was tough," Houston manager Phil Garner said. "We give them six runs the last two innings and that's tough, particularly after Roger pitched so well and things looked like they were on our side.
"It was another masterful game by Roger and we finally put some runs on the board. I really thought he had that one."
The 23-year veteran right-hander has won 343 career games, but his only two wins this year have come against the Chicago Cubs.
Clemens is 2-1 with a 1.33 ERA in four career games against the Diamondbacks, and gave up one run and four hits in seven innings in his only career start at Chase Field, a 3-1 victory on Aug. 2, 2005.
Houston won Friday's series opener 8-7 behind back-to-back homers from Mike Lamb and Willy Taveras in the top of the ninth inning. It was Taveras' first home run in 739 at-bats.
Lance Berkman also homered on Friday, and is batting .319 (23-for-72) with six homers, 14 runs and 14 RBIs in 20 career games at Chase Field.
Arizona has lost seven of its last nine home games to Houston, and fell one game behind Cincinnati in the NL wild card race with Friday's defeat.
Dustin Nippert (0-1, 10.80) makes his second start of the season Saturday, as he takes the place of ace Brandon Webb, who will miss his scheduled start with an inflamed elbow.
Nippert went 12-5 with a 5.05 ERA in 20 games for Triple-A Tucson this season, striking out 106 in 112 1-3 innings.
The 25-year-old right-hander started three games in 2005 for Arizona, and in his only major league start this season - on June 7 - he allowed six runs and seven hits in five innings of a 7-3 loss to Philadelphia.
Webb's injury is not thought to be serious, and Arizona head trainer Ken Crenshaw expressed confidence the ace won't have to go on the disabled list.
"We're just going to monitor it day to day to see how he progresses," Crenshaw said. "I think he'll be fine."
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