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Houston at Chicago

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Houston «100002001480
Chi. Cubs000000020260

Rocket reels off win No. 343 as 'Stros hold off Cubs

CBS SportsLine.com wire reports
  •  

CHICAGO -- As Roger Clemens went into his motion to deliver his first pitch on a hot and humid night, flashbulbs popped from every angle and corner of Wrigley Field.

Clemens draws attention everywhere he goes, but this night featured more history than usual -- a rare matchup of 300-game winners with Greg Maddux providing the opposition.

"I hope the fans enjoyed it. It's pretty special," Clemens said after outpitching Maddux in the Houston Astros' 4-2 victory over the Chicago Cubs on Thursday.

"I think it's why we do it. So that the fans, especially in this stadium that is so rich in history, can come out and enjoy it."

Clemens (2-3) threw six shutout innings to earn his 343rd career victory and move into sole possession of eighth place on the career list. He allowed three hits, walked one and struck out five.

"I know when I'm going up against Greg it's going to be a battle of wills," Clemens said. "That's for sure on a hot sticky night like it was tonight. It was going to come down to who made the mistake first."

Maddux did, surrendering a leadoff homer to Craig Biggio.

Maddux (7-11) allowed seven hits and three runs in seven innings with no walks and three strikeouts. He lost his sixth straight decision and hasn't won since June 9. Maddux, who turned 40 in April, threw 102 pitches and remained at 325 wins.

"I love watching Greg work," Clemens said. "He's definitely one of the guys I admire in how he goes about his work. I'd definitely pay to see him pitch."

Biggio's 49th career leadoff homer -- already an NL record -- on Maddux's second pitch of the game got Houston off quickly. And the Astros went up 3-0 in the sixth on a two-run double by Preston Wilson.

Clemens, less than a month from his 44th birthday, threw 85 pitches on the 85-degree night.

"He doesn't throw as hard as he used to, but he still has that pinpoint control," Cubs manager Dusty Baker said. "He's sharp enough to get you out. When a guy is throwing strikes, especially quality strikes, it's a bit difficult to hit."

And the Rocket can still bring it when needed. When Juan Pierre singled and stole second in the sixth inning, giving the Cubs a potential rally, Clemens threw a 91 mph pitch to strike out Derrek Lee and then got Aramis Ramirez to ground out sharply to second.

"That was vintage Roger. He gave us six great innings and that was something we needed," Houston manager Phil Garner said.

"Everyone thinks he just rears back and throws it by you," Maddux said of Clemens. "He's got good location, he's got good off-speed pitches."

Maddux said the pre-game hype about facing another 300-winner wasn't on his mind. He agreed it could mean more when he's finished pitching, but history isn't what concerns him right now.

"You are playing to win. You are not playing to get a nice picture in your room at home or something," he said.

It was the second meeting in as many seasons between two of the game's greatest right-handers, both of whom entered Wednesday's game with losing records.

Maddux beat Clemens 3-2 on April 29, 2005, in Houston. Before that game at Minute Maid Park, the last time two 300-game winners met was 1987, when Steve Carlton, then with Minnesota, faced Don Sutton, pitching at the time for California.

And before Clemens and Maddux met last season, the last matchup of 300-game winners in the National League came in 1892 between Philadelphia's Tim Keefe and St. Louis' Jim "Pud" Galvin.

Maddux, a 15-time Gold Glove winner, handled seven comebackers, including a bunt from Chris Burke that he picked up and threw to third to get Mike Lamb. Lamb led off with an infield single and stole second in the sixth.

But with two outs, Aubrey Huff singled Burke to third and Wilson followed with his two-run double to right center to make it 3-0.

"I'm not pitching good enough to win," Maddux said. "Good enough to stay in games, but not pitching good enough to win."

Chicago's Todd Walker, who entered the game as pinch hitter in the sixth, hit a two-run homer off reliever Trever Miller with two outs in the eighth to pull the Cubs within 3-2.

The Astros added a run in the ninth when Wilson doubled, moved up on a sacrifice and scored on Adam Everett's squeeze bunt.

Brad Lidge pitched the ninth for his 22nd save in 26 chances.

Notes

  • Maddux and Clemens also met in 2000 when Clemens was with the Yankees and Maddux with the Braves. Neither figured in the decision of Atlanta's 11-7 win.
  • Biggio's homer was his 2,885th hit, giving him sole possession of 34th place all-time.
  • 2B Walker, who made two errors during the Mets' 11-run inning Sunday, didn't start for the second straight game, even though he had a lifetime .349 average against Clemens.
  • The crowd was 40,344.
 
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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Craig Biggio rounds the bases after blasting a solo shot off the Cubs' Greg Maddux in the first inning.  (AP)
Craig Biggio rounds the bases after blasting a solo shot off the Cubs' Greg Maddux in the first inning. (AP)

Players of the Game
Houston

P. Wilson
AB 4
R 1
H 2
HR 0
RBI 2
Chicago

T. Walker
AB 2
R 1
H 1
HR 1
RBI 2
 
Houston Astros
Craig Biggio, 2B4111001 .268
    Willy Taveras, CF0000000 .259
Mike Lamb, 1B4010010 .326
Chris Burke, CF-2B3100110 .300
Lance Berkman, RF4010002 .321
Aubrey Huff, 3B4110002 .281
Preston Wilson, LF4122000 .280
Brad Ausmus, C3020011 .247
Adam Everett, SS3001012 .238
Roger Clemens, P2000002 .000
   a- Orlando Palmeiro, PH1000000 .225
    Chad Qualls, P0000000 .000
    Trever Miller, P0000000 .000
    Dan Wheeler, P0000000 .000
   b- Luke Scott, PH1000010 .200
    Brad Lidge, P0000000 .000
Totals334841510 
a-flied out for Clemens in the 7th
b-struck out for Wheeler in the 9th
Batting
2B - Preston Wilson 2 (21, Maddux, Howry), Brad Ausmus (11, Maddux)
HR - Craig Biggio (9, Maddux)
SH - Brad Ausmus (4), Adam Everett (3)
RBI - Craig Biggio (36), Preston Wilson 2 (50), Adam Everett (33)
2-OUT RBI - Preston Wilson 2 (23)
SB - Mike Lamb (1, 2nd base off Maddux/Barrett)
Team LOB - 5
Fielding
DP - Biggio-Everett-Lamb
Houston Astros
Roger Clemens (W,2-3) 6300150 2.43
Chad Qualls (H,11) 1.1111110 3.48
Trever Miller (H,4) 0.1111001 4.73
Dan Wheeler (H,15) 0.1100000 3.57
Brad Lidge (S,22) 1000020 5.60
Pitches-Strikes - Roger Clemens 85-60, Chad Qualls 23-13, Trever Miller 2-2, Dan Wheeler 7-4, Brad Lidge 17-11
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Roger Clemens 10-3, Chad Qualls 1-1, Trever Miller 1-0
Batters Faced - Roger Clemens 22, Chad Qualls 5, Trever Miller 2, Dan Wheeler 2, Brad Lidge 3
Chicago Cubs
Juan Pierre, CF3010000 .276
Ryan Theriot, 2B2000010 .200
   a- Todd Walker, PH-2B2112001 .287
Derrek Lee, 1B4010021 .272
Aramis Ramirez, 3B4000002 .257
Jacque Jones, RF4010020 .300
Michael Barrett, C4010001 .331
Angel Pagan, LF3010111 .260
Ronny Cedeno, SS3000023 .256
Greg Maddux, P2000001 .105
    Scott Eyre, P0000000 .000
   b- Phil Nevin, PH0100100 .228
    Bob Howry, P00000001.000
Totals312622810 
a-grounded out for Theriot in the 6th
b-walked for Eyre in the 8th
Batting
2B - Jacque Jones (21, Clemens), Angel Pagan (2, Clemens)
HR - Todd Walker (5, Miller)
SH - Juan Pierre (8)
RBI - Todd Walker 2 (37)
2-OUT RBI - Todd Walker 2 (10)
SB - Juan Pierre (33, 2nd base off Clemens/Ausmus)
Team LOB - 5
Chicago Cubs
Greg Maddux (L,7-11) 7733031 4.56
Scott Eyre 1000110 2.23
Bob Howry 1111010 3.13
WP - Scott Eyre (5)
Pitches-Strikes - Greg Maddux 102-70, Scott Eyre 25-14, Bob Howry 12-8
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Greg Maddux 15-3, Bob Howry 2-0
Batters Faced - Greg Maddux 28, Scott Eyre 4, Bob Howry 4
Game Information
Attendance - 40344
Game Time - 2:52
Temperature - 85
Umpires - Home - Larry Vanover, First Base - Paul Nauert, Second Base - Chris Guccione, Third Base - Charlie Reliford