By John Fay
The Cincinnati Enquirer
HOUSTON - When you're facing Roger Clemens, you look anywhere for an edge. Reds manager Dave Miley tried to find one in the statistics.
Jacob Cruz was 3-for-7 against Clemens with a double and a home run, so Cruz started right field.
But, as they say in the mutual fund business, past performance doesn't guarantee future success. Cruz struck out swinging three times and left seven runners on base as the Reds fell to Clemens and the Houston Astros 6-1 Friday night before a sellout crowd of 41,430 at Minute Maid Park.
Astros starting pitcher Roger Clemens reacts to striking out Jacob Cruz to end the top of the sixth inning.
"It's amazing that a man that age can throw 94, 95 miles an hour," said Cruz, who was playing in his first game as a Red. "I'm kind of upset he didn't retire."
In his first start against the Reds, Clemens went six innings, allowing one run on five hits, to improve to 5-0 this year.
Reds starter Jose Acevedo, who entered the night with 301 fewer career wins than Clemens, hung with the Rocket pretty well. It was 3-1 when Acevedo left, but rookie Ryan Wagner gave up three runs in the seventh to put it out of reach.
"(Acevedo) did the same things he's always done," Miley said. "He kept us in the game. You can't ask for much more than he did."
Acevedo made his fourth quality start in five outings. That usually means a win for the Reds. They entered with an 8-2 record when the starter goes six or more innings and gives up three or fewer runs.
But with Clemens throwing 95 mph heat from his first pitch to his 106th, the offense couldn't hold up its end of the deal.
Ken Griffey Jr. was the only other player with much success against Clemens. Griffey entered the game 27-for-73 (.370) with six home runs, seven doubles and 16 RBI against the Rocket.
He went 0-for-2 with a walk.
The Reds' one run came in the first. Clemens walked four in the inning, including Brandon Larson to force in a run.
"We were laying off pitchers," Adam Dunn said. "I thought we might get to him. But he's not your average guy out there on the mound. He reached back and did what he had to do."
Astros' Morgan Ensberg (14) congratulates Lance Berkman after Berkman's solo home run against the Reds on Friday.
Cruz, in his first major league appearance since 2002, struck out to end the inning.
Clemens would not walk another batter the rest of the game.
The Astros took the lead in the fourth. Adam Everett led off with a single. An out later, Jeff Kent singled. Lance Berkman got one run in with a single.
Richard Hidalgo grounded one back to Acevedo, who threw home to trap Kent. But Berkman and Hidalgo ended up at second and third on the play.
Morgan Ensberg singled sharply to Dunn in left. Berkman scored easily, but Dunn nailed Hidalgo at the plate to end the inning. It was the second runner Dunn threw out at the plate in as many games.
Besides the first, the Reds had two other chances against Clemens. Dunn and Larson started the fourth with singles. But Cruz struck out and Corky Miller hit into a double play. In the sixth, Sean Casey and Dunn singled with one out, but Larson grounded into a fielder's choice and Cruz struck out.
"We had some chances to do something," Miley said. "But he would induce a double play. That's why he's Roger Clemens."
Berkman made it 3-1 by hitting the second pitch of the sixth out for fifth home run of the year.
Acevedo was upset that home plate Jerry Layne limited him to five warm-up pitches, instead of seven.
"He said he's doing his job," Acevedo said. "He's the boss. But he should let me throw my pitches."
Wagner faced five batters and got one out - and that was on a sacrifice fly. His ERA is up to 11.25 and he's allowed 20 hits in eight innings.
Miley brought in fifth starter Jimmy Haynes, who was skipped because of the off day, to mop up. It was Haynes' first relief appearance since Sept. 29, 2001, when he was with the Milwaukee Brewers. His last 56 appearances were as a starter.
ASTROS 6, REDS 1
|DJimenez 2b||3||1||0||0||Biggio cf||5||1||2||0|
|Larkin ss||4||0||0||0||Harville p||0||0||0||0|
|Griffey Jr. cf||3||0||0||0||AEverett ss||3||2||2||0|
|Casey 1b||4||0||1||0||Bagwell 1b||3||1||1||1|
|Dunn lf||2||0||2||0||JKent 2b||3||0||1||1|
|Larson 3b||3||0||1||1||Berkman lf||4||2||3||2|
|JaCruz rf||4||0||0||0||Hidalgo rf||4||0||0||0|
|CMiller c||4||0||0||0||Ensberg 3b||4||0||2||1|
|JoAcevedo p||2||0||1||0||Ausmus c||4||0||1||0|
|WPena ph||1||0||0||0||Clemens p||2||0||0||0|
|RWagner p||0||0||0||0||JVizcaino ph||1||0||0||0|
|JHaynes p||0||0||0||0||DMiceli p||0||0||0||0|
DP-Houston 2. LOB-Cincinnati 7, Houston 7. 2B-AEverett (3), Bagwell (5), Ensberg (4). HR-Berkman (5). SB-DJimenez (2), Ausmus (1). S-AEverett. SF-JKent.
HBP-by JoAcevedo (Bagwell). WP-RWagner.
Umpires-Home, Jerry Layne; First, Jerry Meals; Second, Paul Schrieber; Third, Ed Montague.
T-2:41. A-41,430 (40,950).
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