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Houston at Arizona

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Houston «000011010390
Arizona100000000160

Rocket shuts down D-Backs, lowers baseball's best ERA to 1.45

CBS SportsLine.com wire reports
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PHOENIX -- Most people at Roger Clemens' age can't get out of bed with a stiff back. The Rocket threw seven dominant innings.

Clemens pitched four-hit ball to earn his 338th victory one day before his 43rd birthday, and the Houston Astros beat the Arizona Diamondbacks 3-1 Tuesday night.

Clemens pitched with tightness in his back in his last start, a condition that returned on the flight to Arizona.

"The plane ride wasn't great. Thank goodness I'm standing up out there," Clemens said. "As long as I was moving around it felt fine."

Adam Everett drove in the go-ahead run with a sixth-inning double and Mike Lamb homered for the Astros, who won for the 14th time in 16 games and extended their lead in the NL wild-card race to two games over the fading Washington Nationals.

Chad Tracy hit his 15th homer for the Diamondbacks, who lost for the second time in six games and fell a game behind the San Diego Padres in the NL West.

Clemens (10-4) was dominant after allowing Tracy's home run two batters into the game. He has won at least 10 games in 19 of his 22 seasons.

"I saw it good out of his hand and it was up enough that I could do something with it," Tracy said. "It's good to do something off a future Hall of Famer, but we lost the game so it's all in vain."

Clemens retired 19 of his final 22 batters, striking out the side in the fourth. The right-hander walked one, struck out eight and lowered his major league-leading ERA to 1.45.

"For the most part I'm staying healthy," Clemens said. "I know I'm going to be sore tomorrow and I'm not looking forward to that. But unless it's major this isn't the time to be putting the ball down."

The Diamondbacks' other two hits against Clemens were a two-out single by Tony Clark in the first and a one-out double by Tracy in the sixth.

"Just another seven innings and one run," Astros manager Phil Garner said. "You guys keep putting that in every story and don't have to rewrite it. All you have to do is change the date. It's absolutely phenomenal."

Brad Lidge pitched the ninth for his 27th save in 30 chances.

Arizona starter Claudio Vargas (4-6) was nearly as sharp, scattering three hits over the first four innings before running into trouble in the fifth.

Brad Ausmus led off with a single past diving third baseman Troy Glaus. Ausmus went to second on a sacrifice by Clemens, moved to third on a groundout and scored on Craig Biggio's looping single to center to tie the game at 1-1.

Houston took the lead in the sixth when Lamb drew a one-out walk and scored one batter later on Everett's double into the left-field corner.

Lamb's seventh homer made it 3-1 in the eighth.

Vargas yielded six hits, walked three and struck out a career-high nine over 7 1/3 innings.

Notes

  • The Diamondbacks became the first team to face 300-game winners in consecutive games since July 24-25, 1987, when Texas faced Steve Carlton and Phil Neikro. Arizona beat Greg Maddux and the Cubs on Sunday.
  • Clemens has allowed three earned runs in 66 innings on the road for a 0.41 ERA.
  • Arizona's Chris Snyder just missed a solo homer off Clemens in the fifth, bouncing a ball off the top of the fence inches to the right of the right-field foul pole. Snyder instead became Clemens' eighth strikeout victim.
  • Vargas's previous career high was eight strikeouts, set June 26 against Detroit.
  • Clemens has pitched in every active major-league stadium except SBC Park in San Francisco and Pittsburgh's PNC Park. Clemens is scheduled to start in San Francisco this weekend.
  • Vargas has allowed four earned runs in his last three starts, a span of 27 1/3 innings.
  • The Diamondbacks said more than 7,000 walk-up tickets were sold Tuesday, accounting for nearly one quarter of the announced crowd of 31,696.
 
Copyright 2014 by STATS LLC and The Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and The Associated Press is strictly prohibited.
 
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Roger Clemens retires 19 of his final 22 batters. He has at least 10 wins in 19 of his 22 seasons.  (AP)
Roger Clemens retires 19 of his final 22 batters. He has at least 10 wins in 19 of his 22 seasons. (AP)

Players of the Game
Houston

R. Clemens
IP 7.0
H 4
ER 1
BB 1
K 8
Arizona

C. Tracy
AB 4
R 1
H 2
HR 1
RBI 1
 
Houston Astros
Willy Taveras, CF5000021 .291
Craig Biggio, 2B5011000 .275
Lance Berkman, RF-1B4010011 .307
Morgan Ensberg, 3B4010011 .286
Mike Lamb, 1B3211111 .217
    Mike Gallo, P0000000 .000
    Brad Lidge, P0000000 .000
Orlando Palmeiro, LF3020101 .333
    Eric Bruntlett, PR-RF0000000 .206
Adam Everett, SS4021023 .249
Brad Ausmus, C3110112 .243
Roger Clemens, P2000022 .220
    Chris Burke, LF1000010 .238
Totals3439331112 
Batting
2B - Lance Berkman (20, Vargas), Adam Everett (22, Vargas)
HR - Mike Lamb (7, Vargas)
SH - Roger Clemens (4)
RBI - Craig Biggio (47), Mike Lamb (38), Adam Everett (39)
2-OUT RBI - Craig Biggio (19), Adam Everett (19)
CS - Eric Bruntlett (2, Home by Cormier/Snyder)
Team LOB - 8
Fielding
Outfield Assists - Eric Bruntlett 1
DP - Bruntlett-Berkman
Houston Astros
Roger Clemens (W,10-4) 7411181 1.45
Mike Gallo (H,3) 1100000 2.08
Brad Lidge (S,27) 1100000 2.40
Pitches-Strikes - Roger Clemens 107-66, Mike Gallo 12-8, Brad Lidge 8-5
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Roger Clemens 6-7, Mike Gallo 1-2, Brad Lidge 1-1
Batters Faced - Roger Clemens 26, Mike Gallo 4, Brad Lidge 3
Arizona Diamondbacks
Craig Counsell, 2B4010000 .264
Chad Tracy, RF4121001 .298
Luis Gonzalez, LF4000022 .282
Tony Clark, 1B4010011 .330
Troy Glaus, 3B3010111 .255
Shawn Green, CF4000012 .287
Royce Clayton, SS3010010 .265
Chris Snyder, C3000021 .221
Claudio Vargas, P2000000 .118
    Lance Cormier, P0000000 .250
   a- Quinton McCracken, PH1000000 .240
    Jose Valverde, P0000000 .000
Totals32161188 
a-flied out for Cormier in the 8th
Batting
2B - Craig Counsell (26, Gallo), Chad Tracy (24, Clemens)
HR - Chad Tracy (15, Clemens)
RBI - Chad Tracy (42)
SB - Troy Glaus (4, 2nd base off Clemens/Ausmus)
Team LOB - 5
Arizona Diamondbacks
Claudio Vargas (L,4-6) 7.1733391 5.09
Lance Cormier 0.2200000 3.81
Jose Valverde 1000020 3.07
IBB - Ausmus by Claudio Vargas
Pitches-Strikes - Claudio Vargas 125-75, Lance Cormier 13-8, Jose Valverde 13-10
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Claudio Vargas 5-8, Lance Cormier 1-0
Batters Faced - Claudio Vargas 32, Lance Cormier 3, Jose Valverde 3
Game Information
Attendance - 31696
Game Time - 2:48
Temperature - 80
Umpires - Home - Rick Reed, First Base - Terry Craft, Second Base - Ted Barrett, Third Base - Alfonso Marquez