DETROIT -- The Rocket pitched against the ballclub his manager dubbed "the hottest team on the planet" and got burned.
Craig Monroe hit an RBI double off reliever Dan Wheeler in the three-run seventh and Nate Robertson threw seven scoreless innings to give Detroit a 4-0 victory over the Houston Astros on Tuesday night.
The Tigers, who have the best record in baseball, have won five straight and 15 of 17.
"With some of the magic we've been getting, especially in the late innings," Robertson said, "you just had a feeling that when he came out of the game, we would get a couple of runs."
In his second start this season, Clemens allowed two runs -- one earned -- and three hits with two walks in 6 1/3 innings. He struck out three consecutive batters over the fifth and sixth innings, but didn't fan another Tiger in his 84-pitch outing.
"I thought he pitched great," Houston manager Phil Garner said. "He couldn't have pitched any better playing against the hottest team on the planet."
The seven-time Cy Young winner left the field very angry, and wasn't in a much better mood in the clubhouse.
After his final pitch, Clemens (0-2) pumped his fist because it looked like he thought he threw a second strike to Carlos Guillen and that Magglio Ordonez was caught stealing for a second out. Instead, Guillen drew a walk on a 3-1 pitch -- giving Ordonez second base.
"I'm not going to talk about that," Clemens snapped. "You just don't need to know about that."
Clemens did say he wasn't happy about being taken out of the game by Garner.
"I was hoping he would give me a chance to get through that inning," he said. "I'm here for a number of reasons, but I have to get some innings, too. I don't want to see our bullpen guys out there all the time."
After Clemens slowly walked off the mound, he shouted at least twice at plate umpire C.B. Bucknor while a sellout crowd -- the fourth in five games -- gave him a standing ovation.
"I tip my hat to the fans, they were great when I came off," Clemens said. "It's fun to see great crowds here again, rooting their Tigers on."
Detroit manager Jim Leyland has made it clear he doesn't care for the hype surrounding Clemens' return, but he praised the 43-year-old right-hander after the game.
"Roger is one of the greatest of all time, and the best thing about him is how he competes," Leyland said. "He competes as hard as anyone who has ever pitched."
Wheeler gave up Monroe's double -- which almost cleared the left-field wall -- bringing home the first run of the game and a second run scored on shortstop Adam Everett's throwing error. Monroe then scored when Morgan Ensberg bobbled a grounder, making it 3-0.
Robertson (8-3) gave up six hits and three walks while striking out four. He has lost only one of his last 13 starts.
"Obviously, with Roger Clemens out there, you know runs are going to be at a premium," Robertson said. "That's what makes pitching fun -- locking up with guys like that."
Rookie Joel Zumaya got out of trouble in the eighth after giving up a single and a walk before getting an out, and Todd Jones pitched a perfect ninth.
Detroit has shut out 10 opponents this season, more than any other team and the most its had before the All-Star break since 1969 -- when it had 12.
"Our pitching staff is definitely the best," Monroe said.
Alexis Gomez gave Detroit a 4-0 lead in the eighth with his first career homer, a shot to right-center off Fernando Nieve.
Houston has lost five of six, and failed to give Clemens much help in his second start -- continuing a trend.
The Astros didn't score while he was pitching last week in a 4-2 loss against the Minnesota Twins. In that game, Clemens gave up two runs and six hits over five innings. Last season, Houston was shut out 17 times -- nine with Clemens starting.
"It's not like the guys aren't trying, they're grinding hard," Clemens said. "But the bottom line is, we're going to have to make our own breaks. Nobody is going to hand anything to us, we made it to the World Series, so people are going to play us tough."
The Astros didn't take advantage of their best scoring opportunity against Robertson.
Preston Wilson led off the seventh with a single and advanced two bases after Robertson was charged with an error on a wild pickoff attempt.
Robertson got out of the jam with a strikeout, popup, and groundout -- with the crowd on its feet and cheering, leading the lefty to pump his fist and glove in the air while shouting with joy as he left the mound.
- Clemens has 341 career wins, leading all active pitches, and Robertson has 28.
- Detroit 2B Placido Polanco was not in the lineup, giving him two days of rest in three days with Thursday being an off day for the team.
- The game started on time about 2 1/2 hours after heavy rain soaked the outfield and left huge puddles on the covered infield. The grounds crew took the tarp off about an hour before the game, and pushed the water into drains -- putting the field in good shape as 39,852 fans began to fill the ballpark.
- Since losing two of three against the Chicago White Sox, Detroit has won six straight series and will go for its second straight sweep Wednesday.
- Wilson had three of Houston's seven hits.