Zito outdueled Clemens in a marquee matchup of the last two AL Cy Young winners, blanking baseball’s top-scoring team for eight innings and leading the Oakland Athletics over the New York Yankees 2-0 Sunday.
“This was definitely a good one,” Zito said.
A day earlier, Athletics first baseman Scott Hatteberg playfully called it a meeting of “Cy Young vs. Cy Old.”
“I agreed with the theory of it,” Zito said.
Hatteberg helped decide the outcome, hitting a solo home run off his former teammate on Clemens’ sixth pitch of the game.
“I want to reiterate I have all the respect in the world for Roger,” Hatteberg said. “He’s at the top of the list of guys I respect. I just meant Barry’s young, he’s older. I was just trying to be cute.”
Hatteberg’s homer turned out to be the lone run Zito (5-2) needed to deny Clemens his 298th career victory. Featuring a big-bending breaking ball, the left-hander held the Yankees to four hits and kept their crowd of 45,426 awfully quiet.
“I was able to watch a couple of innings,” Clemens said. “He has a really good curveball. It doesn’t really matter who you’re matching up against. You don’t go out and try to do anything different.”
Both teams finished with only four hits as Oakland won for the eighth time in 10 games. By taking two of three, the Athletics became the first team to win a series against the Yankees this season.
“Usually the offense hits the wall when somebody pitches like Barry Zito did today,” Yankees manager Joe Torre said.
Zito, nine days shy of his 25th birthday, showed the stuff and composure that made him the AL’s top pitcher last year. Twice the Yankees put runners on first and second with no outs, and both times he escaped. Zito struck out four and walked three.
There was a little drama this time with Foulke, too. Bernie Williams was hit by a pitch leading off the inning and Hideki Matsui followed with a fly ball that center fielder Chris Singleton caught while bumping into right fielder Terrence Long.
Clemens (4-2), a six-time Cy Young winner, was almost equal to the task. The 40-year-old Rocket allowed just four hits in seven innings, but was let down by his hitters and defense.
“I’ve been around 20 years, I’ve been around a lot of these games. I’ve been on the other side. You don’t bat an eye,” Clemens said.
The Yankees were shut out for the second straight time that Clemens started, and also gave away an unearned run after an error by rookie shortstop Erick Almonte, starting while Derek Jeter recovers from a dislocated shoulder.
Hatteberg hit his third homer of the season, a one-out drive in the first inning.
“Just to be able to hit a home run off him and help us win a game is a highlight of my career,” Hatteberg said.
Clemens said the early shot didn’t faze him.
“Home runs to right field here, if you let it bother you or get you out of whack, you’re in for a long day,” he said.
Those two runs were enough for Zito, who kept several Yankees stars in slumps.
Zito twice struck out Giambi looking, keeping his batting average under .200. Alfonso Soriano was hitless in three at-bats and is an 0-for-12 rut and Williams went 0-for-3 and was 1-for-20 slump on the Yankees’ 3-3 homestand.
The Yankees looked like they might take the lead in the seventh after Matsui and Raul Mondesi led off with singles. Bubba Trammell hit what might’ve been the Yankees’ hardest ball of the afternoon, but left fielder Eric Byrnes hustled back and made the catch near the wall.
“I thought that was a three-run homer when he hit,” Zito said.
This was Oakland’s only regular-season season trip to Yankee Stadium. So the A’s won the season series in New York for the first time since 1995. … Athletics C Ramon Hernandez missed the game because of a bruised right thumb. He was nicked by a ball that glanced off Jorge Posada on Saturday, and is listed as day-to-day. … Nick Johnson’s streak of drawing a walk in 17 straight games ended when he flied out as a pinch-hitter, ending the game witha runner on second.