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Clemens: 'Hamstring was free and lose'

LAKELAND, Fla. (AP) -- He looked like the Roger Clemens of old
for the first four innings Monday. Then, he just looked old.

The 42-year-old Clemens seemed dominant as ever through the
first four innings of an exhibition against Detroit, scattering
four harmless hits. But the Tigers broke through for three runs
after the Houston right-hander tired in the fifth, and they scored
four more in the sixth.

Clemens got a standing ovation from the fans at Joker Marchant
Stadium as he left after completing six innings, trailing 7-6. He
allowed 12 hits, two of them homers, while walking one and striking
out seven.

The Astros eventually won 14-11 in 10 innings.

This was the third start of the spring for Clemens, but the
first since March 18, when he left a game against Detroit with a
strained right hamstring. Clemens, who won his seventh Cy Young
last season, threw 90 pitches in a simulated game March 24 in
Kissimmee.

"I wanted to get out of here with less ice bags than last
time," Clemens said. "I've only got four on now. Last time it was
five."

Astros manager Phil Garner had intended to keep Clemens on a
90-pitch count, but it didn't work out quite that way.

"I went out to the mound at 94, and he said he wanted to keep
going," Garner said. "I frankly thought his 99th pitch was his
best."

Clemens eventually finished at 109 pitches, 70 for strikes.

"The hamstring was free and lose," Clemens said. "I was able
to jog to the mound, which I couldn't do the other day."

Detroit starter Nate Robertson gave up six runs and six hits. He
was replaced by Ugueth Urbina after walking the first two batters
in the Houston fifth. Urbina got out of the inning quickly with two
strikeouts and an infield fly.

Urbina, who lost his closer's job when the Tigers signed free
agent Troy Percival during the offseason, struck out the side in
the Astros sixth.

Houston took a 2-0 lead in the second. One run scored on Carlos
Rivera's RBI single, the other came when Detroit catcher Vance
Wilson bit on Rivera's fake attempt to steal second, allowing Chris
Burke to trot home from third.

Jeff Bagwell and Burke each hit two-run homers, giving the
Astros a 6-0 lead in the third.

Omar Infante, Carlos Guillen and Magglio Ordonez had RBI as the
Tigers made it 6-3 in the fifth. Carlos Pena and Jason Smith each
hit two-run homers -- among the five hits the Tigers collected off
Clemens to go up 7-6 in the sixth.

Houston regained the lead on Mike Lamb's two-run single in the
seventh, but Detroit made it 8-8 on Mike Hessman's solo homer in
the bottom of the inning.

Eric Bruntlett's RBI single off Mike James gave Houston a 9-8
lead in the eighth.

The Astros got two more in the ninth, one on Burke's RBI single
and another on Steve Colyer's wild pitch.

Hessman's three-run homer off Ezequiel Astacio tied it at 11 in
the bottom of the ninth.

Percival gave up three straight singles to start the 10th,
including an RBI liner by Willy Taveras. A sacrifice fly by Burke
and RBI single by Rivera put the Astros ahead by three.

Game notes
Detroit catcher Ivan Rodriguez was ejected by umpire Dusty
Dellinger in the top of the second. Rodriguez said something
Dellinger didn't like after a the count had gone to 1-0 on Houston
catcher Brad Ausmus. Tigers manager Alan Trammell also was tossed
for protesting the Rodriguez ejection too long and too hard. ...
Detroit reliever Fernando Rodney had to leave the game with a sore
shoulder after facing just one batter in the ninth. Pitching coach
Bob Cluck said, however, the problem wasn't related to Rodney's
elbow, which underwent Tommy John surgery, keeping him out of
baseball last season.

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