Clemens pitched shutout ball into the seventh inning and led New York over the Oakland Athletics 5-2 Saturday.
“Mel mentioned that I didn’t need to look for anything extra,” Clemens said of a late-inning visit to the mound.
“He thought I was trying to get a little extra, which I was, and he said my stuff was plenty good enough to get the job done,” he said.
Clemens ended his two-game losing streak by giving up one run and six hits in 6 2-3 innings.
The Rocket (5-2) struck out five, leaving him 41 short of reaching 4,000. He walked one.
“Roger is probably the one guy who’s not looking ahead to 300,” Yankees manager Joe Torre said. “He’s pitching every game with quality. He’s got that something inside that you have to be born with.”
Clemens, a six-time AL Cy Young winner, won his rematch with Barry Zito, who got the award last year. Zito threw eight sharp innings at Yankee Stadium last Sunday in a 2-0 win.
“He had great stuff last week, too,” said A’s manager Ken Macha of Clemens. “It looked like he had a great split finger and great movement.”
The victory kept Clemens on pace to possibly win No. 300 at his old home, Fenway Park. Clemens is scheduled to pitch again next weekend against Texas, then make his following start at Boston.
“It’s getting closer and a couple of guys were busting my chops saying ‘not bad for Cy Old,”’ said Clemens, referring to a nickname pinned on him by A’s infielder Scott Hatteberg last week.
“Sometimes you can’t argue with the truth. I’m 40 now. That’s the way it is,” he said.
Mariano Rivera pitched the ninth for his third save.
Zito (5-3) gave up four runs on five hits over six innings. He walked four and struck out seven.
“A couple of well-hit fastballs off Zito and a couple of walks in front of them,” said Macha.
Williams led off the fourth with his seventh home run of the season to give the Yankees the early lead. He hit a drive that just made it over the left-field fence about 10 feet from the foul line.
“That was bad,” said Zito. “You never want to walk the No. 9 hitter and walking Zeile on four straight was a brain freeze. I thought I threw a decent pitch to Posada but he hit the ball well.”
Posada, who also doubled against Zito in the first, had one hit in 12 previous career at-bats against the ace left-hander.
“He’s tough,” said Posada. “He threw a good pitch and I got good wood on it. Zito has one of the best breaking balls I’ve seen.”
The Yankees made it 5-0 in the seventh. With two outs, Posada doubled off the left hand of third baseman Eric Chavez, who had to leave the game with a bruise. Williams followed with an RBI single.
Clemens escaped damage a handful of times.
Byrnes doubled with one out in the fifth, but Clemens got out of it with a pair of flyouts.
The A’s put runners on first and third with two outs in the sixth and Clemens struck out Erubiel Durazo.
Oakland scored in the seventh on Johnson’s RBI groundout and added a run inthe eighth on Durazo’s RBI single.
Yankees 1B Jason Giambi was scratched from the starting lineup with inflammation in his left eye. … With two more homers, the Yankees now have 60 in 36 games. … … Yankees RHP Steve Karsay (right shoulder bursitis) threw 39 pitches in a bullpen session and RHP Antonio Osuna (strained right groin) threw 44 pitches during batting practice. … Clemens moved into 16th place on the Yankees’ career strikeout list with 806. … The A’s are 9-3 against the Yankees in Oakland since 2001. … Yankees LF Hideki Matsui had his 10-gamehitting streak stopped.