HOUSTON (AP) -- Roger Clemens wouldn't blame his latest loss on recent back and hip problems.
But he looked like a different pitcher in the seventh inning as the Milwaukee Brewers got to him for four runs and rallied for a 5-2 victory over the Houston Astros on Thursday night.Clemens (11-5) gave up a season-high five earned runs and saw his major league-leading ERA go from 1.32 to 1.53. He pointed to a home run by Rickie Weeks in the sixth inning, Milwaukee's first run, as being the decisive blow of the game."I believe my body to be back on the upswing," said Clemens, who strained his back five starts ago but has pitched through the pain. "After four starts, it's finally improving. It sure feels that way."The big points in the game were when we scored, I needed to go out and shut them out and I didn't. The [Weeks] home run gave them too much momentum. There's no doubt about that. Brad [Ausmus] and I had total control of the game until that home run," he said.It was one inning later that Clemens gave up the four runs, his worst inning of the season."I felt I started throwing instead of pitching then," he said. "The bottom line is there's no excuse for that."Astros manager Phil Garner didn't see it that way."I think his hip was bothering him a little," Garner said. "It's very uncharacteristic of him to have that kind of inning. But I don't think that's the story. Our offense has just gone stone cold."The Brewers still thought Clemens, who lost for the first time since July 17, was the story."We just tried to wait him out until he made some mistakes," said Bill Hall, who had an RBI single to start the scoring in the seventh. "In the seventh inning, he made a few and we took advantage of them. The guy's 43 years old. It's hard to believe he's still painting the corners with 94 mph fastballs."Lyle Overbay's double started the big inning that gave Milwaukee its third straight win and fourth in five games."It's hard to believe he's 43," Overbay said. "You would think at the end of your career, your velocity would go down. But not with him. He made a mistake to Bill Hall and Hall took advantage."Manager Ned Yost thought Damian Miller's seventh-inning at-bat was crucial. Miller worked the count to 3-2 before hitting a two-run double with the bases loaded."That was an awesome at-bat," Yost said. "You know Roger Clemens is not going to give in, but the thing is, Miller didn't give in either. With a pitcher like that out there, most guys are going to swing at his pitches. But Miller didn't."Miller surprised himself."That's probably the best at-bat I've had in a while against the best pitcher in baseball," Miller said. "I don't know how I laid off some of those pitches."The 2-2 slider was probably the toughest. Probably it was so good, it froze me. I was fortunate it was a ball. I was just trying to hit a fly ball," he said.Clemens retired the first seven hitters, before Miller had a bloop single to right in the third. He then retired 10 straight until Weeks homered, ending Clemens' season-high scoreless-innings streak at 26.Houston has scored 90 runs in Clemens' 25 starts. The Astros have scored two or fewer in 11 of his starts and Clemens is 1-5 in those games.The loss was Houston's third straight and fifth in the last six games. It dropped the Astros into a second-place tie with Washington in the NL wild-card race, a half-game behind Philadelphia.Tomo Ohka (8-7) went six innings, allowing two runs and eight hits for the win. Derrick Turnbow pitched the ninth for his 27th save.Jason Lane hit his 18th homer to lead off the second and singled with the bases loaded in the third to make it 2-0.Weeks' 11th homer closed the Astros' lead to 2-1.In the seventh, Overbay led off with a double and Carlos Lee
walked. One out later, Hall tied the game at 2 with a run-scoring single to left-center.After a walk to Russell Branyan loaded the bases, Miller hit the two-run double to right field to chase Clemens. The 29,844 in attendance gave him a standing ovation as he walked off the field.Pinch-hitter Prince Fielder's sacrifice fly drove in Branyan for the 5-2 lead and Miller was thrown out at third trying to advance on the play.Clemens' previous high for earned runs was four in a 6-4 win over St. Louis on June 5.
It was only the second time this season Clemens has been taken out of a game in the middle of an inning. The first was April 18 in a 10-0 loss to Atlanta. ... Clemens had a 24-inning scoreless streak in April. ... The club record for scoreless innings is 31, set by J.R. Richard in 1980. Clemens' career best is 33 in 1998 while with Toronto. ... Craig Biggio was scratched from the lineup because he was still feeling the effects of having two teeth removed earlier in the day. ... Geoff Jenkins is 1-for-12 in his career against Clemens.