PHOENIX (AP) -- Roger Clemens' Houston teammates gave him a
birthday cake in the clubhouse Saturday night -- with one candle,
"It would have been a fire hazard," Clemens joked.
One day after his 44th birthday, the seven-time Cy Young winner
defied Father Time again with his 344th career victory in the
Astros' 9-3 victory over the Arizona Diamondbacks on Saturday
"It's a lot of fun being around these guys," Clemens said. "I
wouldn't be here if I didn't enjoy being around them, that's for
Brad Ausmus hit his third career grand slam and Clemens
scattered eight hits over seven innings.
Clemens (3-4), who struck out five and walked one, gave up three
runs but finally got some offense behind him.
"It's been awhile," Houston manager Phil Garner said. "I
can't remember when he's had some runs to work with. He wanted to
work on a few things and he had a chance tonight without having to
feel like he couldn't make a mistake, and as usual he gave us
another great game."
Clemens had allowed two earned runs in 14 innings in his
previous two outings, but came away with a loss and no decision.
Luke Scott hit a two-run homer and Aubrey Huff a solo shot off
Dustin Nippert, recalled from Triple-A Tucson to start in place of
Arizona ace Brandon Webb, out with a sore right elbow. It was only
the second homer of the season for each of the three Astros.
Scott was 4-for-4, Huff had an RBI single and Lance Berkman
doubled in a run for his 95th RBI of the season.
"That's about a month's allotment in run support," Ausmus
Eric Byrnes hit his team-leading 17th homer of the season for
In his previous start, against the Diamondbacks in Houston on
Sunday, Clemens allowed two hits and left with a 5-1 lead after
seven innings, but Arizona rallied to win 7-6. There was no
comeback this time in the Astros' fourth victory in five games.
"He doesn't have the fireball that he used to, but I'll tell
you what, he knows how to pitch," Arizona's Orlando Hudson said.
"He moves the ball around, up and down, in and out. You got to
take your hat off to him, he's a Hall of Famer."
The Diamondbacks cut it to 4-1 in the third. Shawn Green reached
on a one-out bloop single to left, then Hudson's line drive to
right bounced over the fence for a ground-rule double, leaving
runners at second and third. Green scored when Stephen Drew
grounded out to short.
Ensberg singled again in the third, then Scott's 412-foot shot
into the swimming pool area in right-center put Houston up 6-1.
Huff's leadoff homer in the fifth made it 7-1.
Nippert (0-2), in his fifth big-league start and second this
season, allowed seven runs on eight hits in five innings. He struck
out six and walked three.
"It pumped me up more than anything," Nippert said of facing
Clemens. "I wanted to go out there and do that much better just
because it was him. I get a chance to pitch against someone like
him once in a lifetime, and I didn't do that good of a job."
With his infield single in the first, Craig Biggio became
the 34th player in major league history to have 2,900 hits. ...
Arizona CF Jeff DaVanon left the game after spraining his left
ankle while stealing second base in the first inning. He was
replaced by Byrnes. ... Clemens made his third start at Arizona.
His first was in Game 7 of the 2001 World Series. ... RHP Enrique
Gonzalez pinch-hit for Nippert to lead off the fifth, grounding out