DETROIT (AP) -- The Rocket pitched against the ballclub his
manager dubbed "the hottest team on the planet" and got burned.
Craig Monroe hit an RBI double off reliever Dan Wheeler in the
three-run seventh and Nate Robertson threw seven scoreless innings
to give Detroit a 4-0 victory over the Houston Astros on Tuesday
The Tigers, who have the best record in baseball, have won five
straight and 15 of 17.
"With some of the magic we've been getting, especially in the
late innings," Robertson said, "you just had a feeling that when
he came out of the game, we would get a couple of runs."
In his second start this season, Clemens allowed two runs -- one
earned -- and three hits with two walks in 6 1-3 innings. He struck
out three consecutive batters over the fifth and sixth innings, but
didn't fan another Tiger in his 84-pitch outing.
"I thought he pitched great," Houston manager Phil Garner
said. "He couldn't have pitched any better playing against the
hottest team on the planet."
The seven-time Cy Young winner left the field very angry, and
wasn't in a much better mood in the clubhouse.
After his final pitch, Clemens (0-2) pumped his fist because it
looked like he thought he threw a second strike to Carlos Guillen
and that Magglio Ordonez was caught stealing for a second out.
Instead, Guillen drew a walk on a 3-1 pitch -- giving Ordonez second
"I'm not going to talk about that," Clemens snapped. "You
just don't need to know about that."
Clemens did say he wasn't happy about being taken out of the
game by Garner.
"I was hoping he would give me a chance to get through that
inning," he said. "I'm here for a number of reasons, but I have
to get some innings, too. I don't want to see our bullpen guys out
there all the time."
After Clemens slowly walked off the mound, he shouted at least
twice at plate umpire C.B. Bucknor while a sellout crowd -- the
fourth in five games -- gave him a standing ovation.
"I tip my hat to the fans, they were great when I came off,"
Clemens said. "It's fun to see great crowds here again, rooting
their Tigers on."
Detroit manager Jim Leyland has made it clear he doesn't care
for the hype surrounding Clemens' return, but he praised the
43-year-old right-hander after the game.
"Roger is one of the greatest of all time, and the best thing
about him is how he competes," Leyland said. "He competes as hard
as anyone who has ever pitched."
Wheeler gave up Monroe's double -- which almost cleared the
left-field wall -- bringing home the first run of the game and a
second run scored on shortstop Adam Everett's throwing error.
Monroe then scored when Morgan Ensberg bobbled a grounder, making
Robertson (8-3) gave up six hits and three walks while striking
out four. He has lost only one of his last 13 starts.
"Obviously, with Roger Clemens out there, you know runs are
going to be at a premium," Robertson said. "That's what makes
pitching fun -- locking up with guys like that."
Detroit has shut out 10 opponents this season, more than any
other team and the most its had before the All-Star break since
1969 -- when it had 12.
"Our pitching staff is definitely the best," Monroe said.
Houston has lost five of six, and failed to give Clemens much
help in his second start -- continuing a trend.
The Astros didn't score while he was pitching last week in a 4-2
loss against the Minnesota Twins. In that game, Clemens gave up two
runs and six hits over five innings. Last season, Houston was shut
out 17 times -- nine with Clemens starting.
"It's not like the guys aren't trying, they're grinding hard,"
Clemens said. "But the bottom line is, we're going to have to make
our own breaks. Nobody is going to hand anything to us, we made it
to the World Series, so people are going to play us tough."
The Astros didn't take advantage of their best scoring
opportunity against Robertson.
Preston Wilson led off the seventh with a single and advanced
two bases after Robertson was charged with an error on a wild
Robertson got out of the jam with a strikeout, popup, and
groundout -- with the crowd on its feet and cheering, leading the
lefty to pump his fist and glove in the air while shouting with joy
as he left the mound.
Clemens has 341 career wins, leading all active pitches,
and Robertson has 28. ... Detroit 2B Placido Polanco was not in the
lineup, giving him two days of rest in three days with Thursday
being an off day for the team. ... The game started on time about
2½ hours after heavy rain soaked the outfield and left huge puddles
on the covered infield. The grounds crew took the tarp off about an
hour before the game, and pushed the water into drains -- putting
the field in good shape as 39,852 fans began to fill the ballpark.
... Since losing two of three against the Chicago White Sox,
Detroit has won six straight series and will go for its second
straight sweep Wednesday. ... Wilson had three of Houston's seven