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Clement toils in loss to Astros06/02/2004 5:34 PM ET
By Carrie Muskat / MLB.com
CHICAGO -- The last thing the Chicago Cubs' struggling offense needed to see was Roger Clemens.
Clemens won his eighth straight decision and avenged a loss to the Cubs last year as the Houston Astros posted a 5-1 victory Wednesday over Chicago.
"We had a guy on the mound today who has a lot to do with silencing bats and deadening bats," Cubs manager Dusty Baker said. "Roger threw a very good game against us. I don't know if it was our bats or Roger. We like to think it was Roger."
Clemens (8-0) scattered five hits and walked two over seven innings, striking out five in front of 38,346 fans at sunny Wrigley Field. He's now 12-0 dating back to Sept. 11, 2003, the longest active streak in the Major Leagues.
"He is what he is, and you see what he's doing at his age, it's incredible," Chicago's Todd Hollandsworth said.
The right-hander's only other start against the Cubs was June 7, 2003, when he was denied his 300th win in a 5-2 loss to Kerry Wood at Wrigley. Clemens, who eventually did reach 300, was pitching for the New York Yankees at that time.
Matt Clement (6-4) took the loss Wednesday, his second in seven starts at home. The right-hander gave up four runs on a season-high 11 hits over 6 2/3 innings. He struck out eight. Clement was asked if he admired Clemens.
"Yeah, you admire somebody who has 300 some wins and 4,000 strikeouts ... and all young pitchers, all starting pitchers strive to get near that point let alone to that point," Clement said. "He's a competitor. You hear about how hard he works. To be at that age and throw at the level he throws at -- he's somebody you strive to be like.
Clement had to throw what he called "stressful pitches" because the Astros always seemed to have runners on base.
"They battled me every at-bat the whole day," Clement said. "(Clemens) pitched a better game than me."
The Astros took the series, 2-1, and lead, 4-1, overall with the next meeting a four-game set June 14-17 at Minute Maid Park. Chicago trails Central Division leader Cincinnati by 4 1/2 games.
Houston took a 1-0 lead in the first when Adam Everett scored from third on a wild pitch on ball four to Jeff Kent. The Cubs tied the game in the fourth. Derrek Lee doubled with one out and stole third. One out and one batter later, Lee scored on Hollandsworth's single.
The Astros answered immediately. Kent tripled off a door in the right-field wall with two out in the fifth to extend his hitting streak to 18 games, then scored on Lance Berkman's single to go ahead, 2-1.
"It hit the door -- so it goes," said Hollandsworth, who might have held Kent to a double if the ball hit the ivy and not the hard door.
The Cubs are batting .267 as a team, and .244 with runners in scoring position. And Corey Patterson appears to be the poster boy for the struggles. He was 0-for-4 Wednesday, and made the last out, leaving a runner at third. The fans showed their displeasure.
"I think in the long run, it'll make me a better player," Patterson said of the growing pains he's experiencing.
"If they want to boo, that's fine. If they want to cheer that's fine," he said. "I'm not going to lie. I could definitely play better than I am."
But he's staying positive. So is Baker.
"He's a little lost right now," Baker said of Patterson. "It doesn't help when people are on his butt and booing, especially at home. You don't need to be kicked when you're down. Everybody needs love and support, especially when you're down."
And maybe the problem wasn't Patterson but the right-hander known as the Rocket.
"I don't sense any frustration at all," Clement said. "We ran into a good pitcher who's 8-0. Nobody's beat him this year. There's nothing to hang our heads about. He threw the ball like he's been throwing all year and he's tough to beat right now."
"We're pressing," Hollandsworth said. "We're going to score runs, we know we are. We'll get out of it."
This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.
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