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Wright hands Clemens a rare home defeat

9/14/2002

NEW YORK (AP) -- Sometime when he's alone, Dan Wright is sure to
sit back and smile about this one. Finding a way to beat Roger
Clemens at Yankee Stadium is no easy task.

Wright handcuffed the highest-scoring team in the majors for
seven innings and Jeff Liefer hit a three-run homer into the upper
deck, leading the Chicago White Sox over the New York Yankees 8-1
Saturday.

Clemens lost for just the second time in 21 decisions at Yankee
Stadium over the last two years -- and first time this season.

''I enjoyed getting a chance to come in here and pitch against
the Yankees,'' Wright said. ''Just a fun place to play. Facing a
guy like Roger Clemens that you've grown up watching him pitch, it
was a great opportunity.''

Joe Crede also homered for the White Sox, who won for the sixth
time in seven games to move to a game of .500. Mark Johnson
matched a career-high with three hits and drove in two runs.

Alfonso Soriano hit his 37th homer for the Yankees, breaking
Bret Boone's American League record for second basemen set last season. The defeat was New York's third in 12 games and kept the Yankees' magic number
for clinching the AL East at seven.

''We're not surprised,'' Liefer said. ''We expect to win no
matter who's on the mound. If you expect any less, I don't think
you belong up here.''

Thanks in part to some sloppy defense by New York, Chicago has
outscored the four-time defending AL champions 21-3 in the first
two games of the series.

''We're in a little bit of a lull,'' Yankees manager Joe Torre
said. ''We've spoiled ourselves a little bit on this homestand.
Today, the two home runs just blew us out of the water.''

Wright (12-12) allowed one run and four hits to win for the
fourth time in five starts. He struck out five and walked one after
entering 0-2 with a 14.04 ERA in two career starts against the
Yankees.

Clemens (12-6) gave up seven runs -- five earned -- and seven hits
in five innings.

Carlos Lee walked leading off the fourth, went to third on
Magglio Ordonez's single and scored when Paul Konerko hit a
sacrifice fly for his 103rd RBI.

Rookie first baseman Nick Johnson then put Clemens in a bind
with some shaky fielding. Johnson gathered Liefer's potential
double-play grounder, but threw low to second for an error.

''When he bobbled it, he just has to eliminate the double
play,'' Torre said. ''It doesn't mean he shouldn't throw to second.
He may have rushed it a little bit.''

With two outs, Mark Johnson slapped a run-scoring double to left on an
0-2 pitch, and Willie Harris followed with a slow roller between
the mound and first. Clemens went to his knees to field the ball,
but Johnson got caught watching and didn't cover first in time as
Liefer scored to make it 3-0.

Clemens hit Ordonez with a pitch with two outs in the fifth, and
Konerko followed with a double. Liefer hit a 1-1 pitch deep into
the right-field upper deck for his sixth home run.

''With two outs, you try to tighten down and I just got the
split up,'' Clemens said. ''You can't give up three-run homers. At
3-0, we have somewhat of a chance. But at 6-0 or 7-0, it's a
different game.''

Crede hit the next pitch over the left-field fence for his 10th
homer and a 7-0 lead, drawing boos from the crowd of 44,795.

''He's 40 years old,'' Torre said of Clemens. ''With that, there's going to be a certain amount of inconsistency with his
command. I thought today he tried to overthrow.''

Wright cruised into the sixth, allowing just one hit. Soriano's
homer began a string of three consecutive hits, but Wright got
Bernie Williams to ground into an inning-ending double play, with a
nice play from Konerko at first.

Keith Foulke and Damaso Marte finished the five-hitter. Mark
Johnson added a run-scoring double in the eighth.

Drew Henson, the former Michigan quarterback, struck out as a
pinch hitter for the final out in his first career at-bat.

Game notes
New York closer Mariano Rivera threw batting practice for
the first time in nearly a month and was pleased with how his
strained right shoulder felt. ... Yankees slugger Jason Giambi,
back in the lineup after sitting out Friday, went 1-for-4. Giambi
bruised his right wrist Thursday when he was hit by a pitch against
Baltimore. ... Clemens fanned six to reach 3,900 career strikeouts.
He is third on the career list. ... The Yankees set a franchise
record for attendance with 3,331,787 this season, breaking the mark
of 3,292,736 set in 1999. ... The major league record for homers by
a second baseman is 42, set by Rogers Hornsby in 1922 and Davey
Johnson in 1973. ... Chicago manager Jerry Manuel won his 407th
career game, passing Paul Richards for fifth place in franchise
history.