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 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.
- 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.