“The Rocket” allowed just one hit with nine strikeouts in seven scoreless innings of Houston’s 10-1 rout of the Giants last Wednesday.
“I don’t think we could have asked any more of him,” catcher Brad Ausmus said. “He was outstanding.”
Clemens will try to give the Astros’ relievers a breather following their dominant effort Monday in the series opener.
After starter Jared Fernandez—a knuckleballer subbing for the injured Andy Pettitte—allowed four runs in the first inning, Brandon Duckworth and four other relievers gave up just one run the rest of the way to help Houston to a 10-5 victory.
The bullpen, which had surrendered 10 runs in 16 1-3 innings prior to Monday, shut down the Cardinals, who came in batting an NL-best .311, over the last seven innings.
“They did an outstanding job against a tough-hitting ballclub,” Houston manager Jimy Williams said. “It was a good team victory. A lot of people contributed.”
Houston’s offense, which entered the game with the NL’s second-best average at .307, flourished in the first matchup between the NL Central rivals. Richard Hidalgo drove in four runs with a three-run homer and an eighth-inning sacrifice fly that sealed the victory. Craig Biggio scored three runs and had three doubles.
The Astros’ hitting is a major reason the team has won four of its last five games, as they have outscored their opponents 40-17 in the wins.
The loss snapped the Cardinals’ three-game winning streak, as they came into the series having swept the Diamondbacks in Arizona. It was also St. Louis’ fourth loss in five home games.
“It got into that part of the game where the team that makes the fewest mistakes wins and we made too many mistakes,” Cardinals manager Tony La Russa said.