Yankees 5, Tigers 2

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NEW YORK (AP)—Roger Clemens kept thinking about a list of names, and it wasn’t all those greats he keeps passing in the record book.

On the second anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, Clemens couldn’t get his mind off the children who recited the names of their dead relatives earlier in the day at ground zero. He kept his composure Thursday night and led the Yankees over the Detroit Tigers 5-2, completing a sweep that boosted New York’s AL East lead.

“That’s difficult, when you have to hear a young kid who’s not an adult do that,” Clemens said.

Before getting his 307th victory, Clemens watched on television as the names of 2,792 victims of the attacks on the World Trade Center were read. Two years earlier, on the day he was to try for his 20th win of the season, he stood on the roof of his Manhattan apartment building and watched the smoke rise from the towers.

There was a brief ceremony before the game that included a moment of silence, and the crowd of 31,915 chanted “U-S-A! U-S-A!” after “God Bless America” was played during the seventh-inning stretch, which happened to occur at 9:11 p.m.

“It’s a date that we’ll always remember every time it comes around,” Clemens said. “It’s a day we’ll always be part of.”

Clemens took notice of the American flags on the sides of the Yankees’ caps in commemoration of the attacks, and planned to autograph several to give them to the fire company in his neighborhood—which happens to have the same No. 22 as his uniform.

Clemens, who went to Afghanistan during the offseason to visit U.S. troops, is proud of the way New Yorkers came together following the attacks and is angry at criticism of President Bush. He gets messages from Bush—the former Texas Rangers owner—from Air Force Gen. Richard B. Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and a high school classmate of Alan Hendricks, one of Clemens’ agents.

“It’s disappointing to hear the negative part of things,” Clemens said.

Clemens (14-9) allowed two runs and seven hits in 6 2-3 innings with six strikeouts. He tied Mickey Welch for 18th place on the career list, two behind Hoss Radbourn, and improved to 25-10 against Detroit.

“I’m sorry to see him go for baseball,” Tigers manager Alan Trammell said. “I’m not sorry to see him go when he pitches against us.”

Jorge Posada hit a two-run single off Nate Cornejo (6-15) for a 3-2 lead in the fourth and made a nifty tag at home plate. Nick Johnson and Bernie Williams added solo homers for the Yankees, and Mariano Rivera pitched the ninth for his 35th save in 41 chances.

New York’s AL East lead over Boston dwindled from 7 1/2 games on Aug. 20 to 1 1/2 games last Saturday. The following day’s win over the Red Sox started a five-game winning streak that has boosted the margin to four games, the Yankees’ largest since Sept. 2.

“It’s important that after you play a very emotional weekend against Boston that we kept our edge,” manager Joe Torre said. “To me, that was another test.”

Detroit (37-108), which has lost six straight, was swept in a series for the 19th time this season and has lost the most games in the major leagues since the 1998 Florida Marlins went 54-108.

On its ninth losing streak of six or more games, Detroit needs six wins in its final 17 games to avoid matching the post-1900 record of 120 losses in a season set by the 1962 New York Mets. The Tigers have 214 losses since the start of 2002, the most in back-to-back years since the 1964-65 Mets dropped 221 games, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.

“We’ve got win something somewhere along the line,” Trammell said.

Cornejo, who pitched nine shutout innings last weekend against Toronto in a game the Blue Jays won in extra innings, allowed 11 hits in his second complete game this season.

Posada saved a run in the sixth when Dmitri Young tried to score on Craig Monroe’s single to left. Hideki Matsui’s bouncing throw was to the third-base side, but Posada grabbed it and tagged Young with a swipe.

Williams, in a 7-for-49 funk, added his 12th homer in the eighth on a drive to right, his second in five days. He still doesn’t feel right at the plate.

“I think I hit it too high,” he said. “Thanks for the short porch.”

Notes

Detroit’s 108 losses tie for the 24th-most in a season with Florida, Oakland (1979), the Philadelphia Phillies (1945), the St. Louis Browns (1937) and the Boston Braves (1909). The Tigers’ next loss would give them the most in the majors since Detroit went 53-109 in 1996. … Detroit is tied for the eighth-most losses in consecutive seasons with the St. Louis Browns (1910-11) and Philadelphia Phillies (1940-41). The Mets set the record for losses in consecutive seasons in their first two seasons, losing 231 games in 1962-63. … Detroit was swept in 20 series last year. … Jason Giambi was in a 3-for-47 slide when he singled in the fourth. It was his first hit off a pitcher other than Toronto’s Kelvim Escobar since Giambi singled off Baltimore’s Rodrigo Lopez on Aug. 23. … Matsui nearly got his 100th RBI on a fourth-inning single to left, but Monroe threw out Posada at the plate. …Four New York hits in the fourth came on the first pitch.

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