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Bad omens, good hitting keep Clemens at 299

5/27/2003

NEW YORK (AP) -- The "300'' patch on Roger Clemens' glove turned out to be a little premature.

No celebration at Yankee Stadium on Monday. In fact, things
started going badly for the Rocket even before his first fastball.

Clemens' initial bid at the milestone victory became a bust when
the Boston Red Sox banged him around, beating the Yankees 8-4 and
sending New York to its eighth straight home loss.

"I'm going to get there eventually -- I hope,'' Clemens said.

"It was just great that I had the opportunity,'' he said. "It
couldn't have worked out any better, except for the loss.''

Bad omens surrounded Clemens from the beginning.

The start of the game was delayed 1 hour, 42 minutes by rain,
and Clemens' routine was further disrupted right after his final
warmup. That's when Red Sox manager Grady Little walked out to
question Clemens' glove.

Clemens was wearing a new glove with a shiny "300'' logo on the
back of it, and plate umpire Bill Miller agreed with Little that it
was not within regulations. Clemens had to toss aside that mitt
while another one was brought from the dugout.

"It wasn't a big deal,'' Clemens said.

Yankees manager Joe Torre said Clemens even expected the new
glove to be challenged. But Torre found it a bit strange that the
glove was removed because he said he thought it had already been
approved by major league baseball.

"He was ready to make the change,'' Torre said.

Little said he did not notice Clemens' glove right away.

"Some of our players brought it to my attention. They were
watching every move the guy was making out there,'' he said. "So I
mentioned it to the umpires.''

Crew chief Joe West came in from second base for the discussion.

"Boston complained about it,'' West said. "Roger said it was a
glove that the commissioner's office had sent to him for the
occasion. The patch was embroidered on there.''

"Roger didn't argue or anything, he just said he'd get another
glove. He didn't want any more tension,'' he said.

Baseball seemed surprised that Clemens' glove carried the unique
patch.

"To the best of my knowledge, Major League Baseball was not
aware that Roger Clemens was going to wear a special glove,''
spokesman Pat Courtney said.

Said Red Sox ace Pedro Martinez: "That may have jinxed him.''

The Red Sox tagged Clemens for eight runs and 10 hits in 5 2/3
innings. He slowly trudged off the mound, his head down the whole
way, after Todd Walker's two-run single.

Now, he'll have to wait until next weekend in Detroit -- or later
at Cincinnati or Wrigley Field, if necessary -- in road gray to try
to join 20 other pitchers with 300 career victories. The exact date
of his next start is uncertain because David Wells is healing from a calf injury.

Clemens (6-3) desperately wanted to win on this afternoon. Torre
gave him plenty of opportunities, letting his ace throw 133 pitches
-- his highest total in more than two years. Still, Clemens remained
winless in his last nine starts at Yankee Stadium.

"Everything was set up. It was a perfect atmosphere,'' Yankees
shortstop Derek Jeter said. "But we didn't show up, that's the
bottom line.''

Clemens' mother, Bess, came from Texas to Yankee Stadium for the
first time since her son clinched the 1999 World Series. She
suffers from emphysema and has had a recent bout with pneumonia,
and wore a breathing tube around her face.

His kids sat in the front row of the loge level, posting "K''
cards to keep track of their dad's strikeouts, and Clemens fanned
nine to raise his lifetime total to 3,985.

Former Red Sox teammates Al Nipper, Rich Gedman, Bruce Hurst and
Marty Barrett were among the sellout crowd of 55,093 on Memorial
Day. So was former New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, just a few days
after his wedding.

"Yeah, it's disappointing,'' Torre said. "I'm sure he had
everything in place with his family and everything, so that's
tough. We all wanted him to do it here.''

Yankees owner George Steinbrenner also was present, and he
couldn't have been happy as his team lost its season-high fifth in
a row.

The Yankees' skid at home is their longest since they dropped 10
straight in 1986 -- Clemens won once during that streak for Boston.
New York has also lost 12 of 13 at Yankee Stadium for the first
time in club history.

Nomar Garciaparra extended his hitting streak to 26 games and
Walker drove in three runs as Boston increased its AL East lead
over the Yankees to 2½ games.

Tim Wakefield (5-2) got the win, but no special satisfaction out of spoiling Clemens' bid.

"Roger was a teammate of mine for two years and I respect Roger
more than anybody in the game,'' he said.

Nolan Ryan was the last pitcher to win 300, reaching the mark in
1990 on his second try. Tom Seaver was the only one to earn No. 300
at Yankee Stadium, in 1985 for the Chicago White Sox, and Phil
Niekro made it to the milestone later that season for the Yankees
at Toronto.

Clemens earned his 299th victory last Wednesday night at Fenway
Park, where he played from 1984-96 for the Red Sox. Getting No. 300
against his former team, however, was not to be.

After Manny Ramirez led off the second with a loud double,
Clemens struggled the rest of the way. Shea Hillenbrand's RBI single made it 1-0, and Boston added two runs in the third.

Trot Nixon drew a bases-loaded walk on a close 3-2 pitch, and
Clemens threw up his arms in disbelief when Miller called it a
ball. Kevin Millar's sacrifice fly made it 3-0.

Walker's RBI grounder and a wild pitch put the Red Sox ahead 5-0
in the fourth. After the Yankees rallied for three runs in the
fourth, Boston broke it open with three more in the sixth.

Game notes
Clemens issued a bases-loaded walk for only the 15th time
in his career. ... Garciaparra's hitting streak is the longest in
the majors this season. His career high is 30 games in 1997.