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Houston at Pittsburgh

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Houston «0011001025110
Pittsburgh000100000170

Clemens powers Astros past Pirates; Taveras extends hitting streak

CBS SportsLine.com wire reports
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PITTSBURGH -- Here's how confident the Houston Astros are in 44-year-old Roger Clemens. As soon as they scored a run against Pittsburgh, they knew they were in control.

Clemens -- yes, he's 44, though he's pitching like he is 24 -- limited Pittsburgh to one run over six innings to win his fourth in a row, extending his strong run of late-season pitching for a fast-fading team as the Astros beat the Pirates 5-1 Friday night.

Clemens (6-4) has pitched in the majors since 1984, but accomplished something he had never done before in 684 career starts by winning in Pittsburgh. Clemens' 347th career victory was his first there in two starts during a career that has been spent mostly in the American League.

Clemens has won in 34 major league parks, according to the Astros, and has gotten wins in his last two starts in parks where he had never won previously, Milwaukee's Miller Park and PNC Park. There are six current NL parks where he has not won, including Dodger Stadium.

"He's pitching this way almost every game," manager Phil Garner said of Clemens, who has permitted two earned runs or fewer in 11 of 13 starts. "The surprise is when he gives up a run. It's amazing."

Lance Berkman homered to the deepest part of PNC Park, a drive into the center-field seats at the 410-foot mark in the third inning for his 35th of the season. Brad Ausmus drove in a run and scored twice while reaching base four times and Jason Lane added a two-run homer, his 13th, in the ninth off Britt Reames.

"Lance hit the home run, then came in the tunnel and yelled, 'There's your one run, make it hold up,' " Clemens said. "I said, 'I appreciate it.' "

The Pirates got that one run back, but no more in a game in which they never led or were tied.

"He does what he needs to do to stay on top," the Pirates' Jeromy Burnitz said. "He pitched a great game."

Big surprise there, huh?

"Any time you score a run with Roger, you feel you have a chance to win," Berkman said. "We probably should have scored 10 runs, but we came up with five and that was good enough to win."

Willy Taveras extended his hitting streak to 28 games with a single leading off the game. Taveras' streak is the longest in Astros history and is the second longest in the majors this season to Chase Utley's 35-game streak for the Phillies.

Clemens' fastball is about 7-to-8 miles per hour slower at 92-93 mph than it was in his prime and he struck out only two, but he repeatedly got key outs to remain unbeaten in six starts since last losing 2-0 to Cincinnati on July 25.

"I saw 90-91 (mph) a lot, but that's tricky," Garner said. "You've got to look and see where the bats are when they swing. A lot of guys don't have the ball in the meat of their swing, so his ball still has a lot of finish on it."

Even if Clemens was too tired after six innings and 82 pitches to finish on a humid night.

"I felt I was pretty spent, and I let him (Garner) know that," Clemens said. "It's all about making pitches, but I got a little tired and winded."

Clemens is one of baseball's greatest all-time power pitchers -- he is second in career strikeouts with 4,566 -- but this was more about precise pitching than overpowering velocity.

"He continues to make good pitches, he doesn't beat himself and he gets tough when the game gets tough," Garner said. "This game was an absolute must for us and he goes out and does a super job."

Clemens stranded a runner on second by getting two weakly hit grounders from Chris Duffy and Joe Randa in the third, then worked out of a two-on, one-out jam an inning later by getting Ryan Doumit to ground into a double play.

The Pirates' only run off Clemens came on Xavier Nady's single in the fourth, but with runners on first and second and a run in, Clemens got Doumit to ground into an inning-ending double play.

Jose Castillo doubled to start the fifth for the Pirates' only extra base hit off Clemens, but the right-hander got out of the inning with two excellent defensive plays. He tagged out Castillo at the plate on a grounder and, later, knocked down Randa's grounder and, while off balance, shoveled an underhand throw to first baseman Mike Lamb to end the inning.

Notes

  • Russ Springer, Dan Wheeler and Brad Lidge followed Clemens with a scoreless inning each.
  • Clemens is 6-1 in seven career starts against Pittsburgh, but his only previous start there was a 7-0 loss last Sept. 19.
  • Pittsburgh had won three in a row.
  • Houston has scored 30 runs in Clemens' last six starts after scoring 11 in his first seven.
 
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 holds the Pirates to one hit in six innings, picking up his sixth win on the season.  (AP)
Roger Clemens holds the Pirates to one hit in six innings, picking up his sixth win on the season. (AP)

Players of the Game
Houston

B. Ausmus
AB 3
R 2
H 3
HR 0
RBI 1
Houston

R. Clemens
IP 6.0
H 6
ER 1
BB 1
K 2
 
Houston Astros
Willy Taveras, CF5030012 .283
Mike Lamb, 1B3000011 .305
   a- Chris Burke, PH-LF^2B2011000 .287
Lance Berkman, RF-1B3111214 .307
Aubrey Huff, 3B5000006 .272
Luke Scott, LF-RF^LF3000100 .397
Craig Biggio, 2B4000023 .255
    Dan Wheeler, P0000000 .000
    Brad Lidge, P0000000 .000
Adam Everett, SS4110020 .237
Brad Ausmus, C3231100 .229
Roger Clemens, P0000000 .056
   b- Orlando Palmeiro, PH1010000 .231
    Russ Springer, P0000000 .000
    Jason Lane, RF1112000 .211
Totals3451154716 
a-hit into fielder's choice for Lamb in the 7th
b-singled for Clemens in the 7th
Batting
HR - Lance Berkman (35, Santos), Jason Lane (13, Reames)
SH - Roger Clemens 2 (5)
RBI - Chris Burke (35), Lance Berkman (104), Brad Ausmus (30), Jason Lane 2 (36)
SB - Willy Taveras 2 (27, 2nd base off Santos/Doumit, 2nd base off Reames/Doumit), Adam Everett (8, 2nd base off Santos/Doumit)
Team LOB - 8
Fielding
DP - Lamb-Everett-Clemens, Biggio-Everett-Lamb
Houston Astros
Roger Clemens (W,6-4) 6611120 2.50
Russ Springer (H,7) 1000100 3.54
Dan Wheeler (H,21) 1100010 2.63
Brad Lidge 1000020 5.34
WP - Roger Clemens (2)
Pitches-Strikes - Roger Clemens 82-54, Russ Springer 17-8, Dan Wheeler 15-10, Brad Lidge 10-7
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Roger Clemens 11-3, Russ Springer 1-2
Batters Faced - Roger Clemens 23, Russ Springer 4, Dan Wheeler 4, Brad Lidge 3
Pittsburgh Pirates
Chris Duffy, CF4000001 .212
Joe Randa, 3B4000002 .264
Freddy Sanchez, SS3120100 .348
Jason Bay, LF4000033 .295
Jeromy Burnitz, RF4020011 .233
Xavier Nady, 1B3011101 .278
Ryan Doumit, C4000013 .197
Jose Castillo, 2B3010001 .270
Victor Santos, P1010000 .118
    John Grabow, P0000000 .000
   a- Ronny Paulino, PH1000001 .311
    Britt Reames, P0000000 .000
Totals311712513 
a-hit into fielder's choice for Grabow in the 7th
Batting
2B - Freddy Sanchez (45, Wheeler), Jose Castillo (22, Clemens)
SH - Victor Santos (5)
RBI - Xavier Nady (51)
Team LOB - 6
Fielding
DP - Nady, Castillo-F. Sanchez-Nady
Pittsburgh Pirates
Victor Santos (L,5-9) 6833341 5.59
John Grabow 1000010 3.95
Britt Reames 2322121 4.76
Pitches-Strikes - Victor Santos 107-68, John Grabow 11-8, Britt Reames 25-16
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Victor Santos 10-3, John Grabow 2-0, Britt Reames 1-2
Batters Faced - Victor Santos 28, John Grabow 3, Britt Reames 9
Game Information
Attendance - 37009
Game Time - 2:48
Temperature - 81
Umpires - Home - Gary Darling, First Base - Bruce Dreckman, Second Base - Larry Poncino, Third Base - Ed Hickox