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Rocket dominates Brewers as Astros win fifth straight

HOUSTON (AP) -- Roger Clemens and the Houston Astros had a moment
of confusion before realizing they'd beaten Milwaukee on Wednesday
night.

Clemens struck out nine in seven shutout innings and Mike Lamb
scored on a strange play in the ninth to give the Astros a 1-0 win
over the Brewers.

"We didn't know what happened," Clemens said. "Everyone
didn't know whether to run on the field or not."

The Astros won their season-high fifth straight by salvaging
another sharp outing from Clemens, who matched his season high for
strikeouts.

The Rocket allowed three runs or fewer for the 13th time in 14
starts, but walked away with a no-decision.

Brad Lidge (1-4) pitched a scoreless ninth for the win,
benefiting from a game-ending play few players had ever seen
before.

Willy Taveras grounded out leading off the ninth against
Milwaukee reliever Jose Capellan (2-1). Lamb and Craig Biggio
followed with singles to put runners at the corners, and Capellan
intentionally walked Lance Berkman to load the bases.

Aubrey Huff then hit a grounder down the line that first baseman
Jeff Cirillo grabbed with a dive. He touched first -- taking away a
force at the plate -- and then threw to catcher Damian Miller.

But Miller simply stepped on the plate, apparently not realizing
he needed to make a tag. Thanks to his mistake, Lamb slid home with
the winning run on Huff's RBI groundout.

"I've never had a game end like that or even seen that play,"
Miller said.

Lamb wasn't sure if he'd scored.

"It was pretty much the oddest ending I've ever seen," he
said. "I didn't know for a long time what had happened. The umpire
kept signaling he was out at first, so I was thinking he would need
to tag me. But I wasn't sure."

When plate umpire Rob Drake finally called Lamb safe, the Astros
spilled out of the dugout to celebrate.

"Everybody was coming out, giving me high-fives," Huff said,
"and I didn't know what happened. It was definitely the weirdest
ending I've ever seen."

The Brewers lost their season-high sixth straight road game,
wasting a strong effort from Dave Bush, who gave up two hits and
struck out four in seven innings.

Before the final play, Bush matched Clemens pitch for pitch.
Both breezed through the first five innings, each allowing only two
hits apiece.

Clemens struck out Miller leading off the sixth, then watched
Taveras sprint to catch a fly from Bush, a career .173 hitter.
Clemens fanned Corey Hart for the second time in the game to end
the inning.

Taveras made another great play to bail Clemens out of a
bases-loaded jam in the seventh.

Cirillo led off with a bloop single to center, then went to
second on Tony Graffanino's groundout.

Clemens fanned Bill Hall and Laynce Nix to reach nine
strikeouts. But on Nix's swinging third strike, Clemens' low pitch
skipped away from catcher Brad Ausmus and Nix ran to first.

Clemens walked Kevin Mench before Taveras dove to catch David
Bell's low liner. Clemens thrust his fist in the air, then greeted
Taveras with a pat on the chest as the center fielder returned to
the dugout.

"I've seen it a number of times," Clemens said of Taveras.
"If I get the ball up, he's going to find a way to get it."

The 26-year-old Bush didn't need any spectacular fielding to
preserve his shutout bid. He retired the Astros in order for the
fifth time in the seventh, striking out Huff to end his 82-pitch
outing.

"Bush was outstanding," Cirillo said. "When he's dialed in,
he's really good. He matched -- and even pitched better -- than
Clemens."

The starters gave way to their bullpens in the eighth.

Game notes
Clemens was denied a decision for the third time in seven
starts. ... Biggio's 634 doubles rank ninth on the career list, six
behind Honus Wagner. ... Clemens made his 685th start, tying him
with Bert Blyleven for eighth all-time. ... One night after his
30-game hitting streak ended, Taveras went 0-for-4.