Thursday, June 3, 2004

NL: Classics: Clemens wins at Wrigley

The Associated Press

CHICAGO - One of baseball's most celebrated pitchers earned his first victory at one of the game's most storied parks.

Roger Clemens won at Wrigley Field and kept his perfect season intact Wednesday, pitching the Houston Astros to a 5-1 win over the Chicago Cubs.

"When you have an opportunity to pitch in this type of setting, regardless of how you feel, you want to make the appearance because people come from all over to watch you perform," Clemens said.

Clemens (8-0) came back from three straight no-decisions with seven sharp innings to earn his 318th career victory, tying Phil Niekro for the 14th place on the all-time list.

Clemens' only other start at Wrigley came last June when he pitched for the Yankees in search of his 300th win. He wound up taking the loss when the Cubs rallied against New York's bullpen.

His appearance a year later certainly wasn't as emotionally charged, but he enjoyed it just the same.

"It's a totally different situation and atmosphere. I had a respiratory problem, too, there. I felt a lot better about my health out there today," said Clemens.

Clemens has won 12 straight regular-season decisions since Aug. 9. Not bad for a 41-year-old, who came out of a short retirement in the offseason.

"I'm not too worried about streaks. I think they're great because we're winning," Clemens said. "I don't put a lot of stock into them. I know that they could change at any time. So you want to try and ride them."

Clemens allowed one run - on a broken-bat single - and five hits in seven innings Wednesday. He struck out five and walked two in his 108-pitch outing.

Expos 8, Braves 4

ATLANTA - Backup catcher Einar Diaz drove in his first three runs of the season, and Montreal avoided a three-game sweep. It was only the third win in 13 games for the Expos, who have the worst record in the majors (17-35).

Atlanta fell back to .500 after failing to match its season high of three straight wins.

Padres 2, Rockies 1, 10 innings

SAN DIEGO - Jay Payton hit an RBI single past the glove of diving second baseman Aaron Miles with two outs in the 10th inning and San Diego avoided being swept in consecutive home series.

Padres closer Trevor Hoffman (1-0) came on with the score tied at 1 and pitched a perfect 10th, with two strikeouts. The Padres were swept at PETCO Park by the Chicago Cubs May 14-16.

Cardinals 5, Pirates 3

PITTSBURGH - Albert Pujols hit his major league-leading 17th home run and Tony Womack had four hits for St. Louis. Pujols' two-run first-inning shot gave him a homer in four of his last five games and helped the Cardinals win for the sixth time in seven games - including three straight.

Mets 5, Phillies 3, 10 innings

PHILADELPHIA - Todd Zeile hit a tying three-run homer in the eighth inning and a two-run drive in the 10th, and the Mets capped a three-game sweep.

Zeile hit a tying homer in the eighth and a go-ahead single in the 10th in a 4-1 win over Philadelphia Tuesday night.

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