Reds 9, Astros 0
HOUSTON (AP)—Cincinnati manager Dave Miley wasn’t sure what to expect from Aaron Harang on Monday. He found out in a hurry.
Skipped in his last start because of the flu, Harang tied his career high with 10 strikeouts and benefited from a three-RBI performance by Joe Randa as the Reds snapped a four-game road losing streak with a 9-0 victory over Roger Clemens and the Houston Astros.
“We didn’t know what to expect out of Aaron, and to get seven innings out of him was great,” Miley said. “He got fatigued after the seventh but that was solid pitching right there. He made pitches he needed to.”
Clemens (3-3) made his first start since last Tuesday, when he left after five scoreless innings with a strained right groin. He allowed two runs in eight innings, giving up four hits and a walk while striking out seven.
After a single to center by Sean Casey in the third, Clemens retired the next 11 batters in a row and 16 of his last 17.
“I was blessed that my leg stayed under me today,” Clemens said. “I started out slowly and tried to build up to it. I just thanked my lucky stars they stayed under me.”
The Astros were shut out for a league-leading ninth time this season.
“Nobody likes to be shut out nine times this early in the season,” Astros manager Phil Garner said. “The guys are working on it. It’s not from a lack of effort.”
Harang (4-2) allowed five hits and walked one in seven innings.
“I felt really good the last couple of days playing long toss and throwing off the mound, so I felt I was getting my energy back,” Harang said. “I went out and was aggressive and tried to throw a lot of first-pitch strikes and keep the ball down. Towards the end I got a little tired.”
The Astros loaded the bases with one out in the second off Harang on a walk by Morgan Ensberg, an infield hit by Adam Everett and a single to shallow left by Brad Ausmus. But Clemens struck out and Willy Taveras hit into a force to end the threat.
After that, Harang gave up two singles and didn’t allow a runner past first base.
Facing Clemens made the victory even sweeter.
“To be able to go out and throw against him is something you might only get to do once in a lifetime,” Harang said. “Just to know who’s on the mound chasing you, that was special, the guy’s going to the Hall of Fame. Just to be able to go out and get a win, especially when we’ve been struggling. We’re just going to try to keep this rolling.”
Clemens walked Adam Dunn with one out in the second and Randa followed with a shot into the left-field seats.
“I don’t think it was that great a pitch,” Clemens said. “But that’s what major league hitters do if you leave a ball up liked that.”
The Astros have been shut out four times in Clemens’ 11 starts this year, and have totaled just 18 runs in support of their ace. Clemens refused to complain.
“No, frustrating is when my body breaks down like it did in Chicago,” Clemens said. “I just very much dislike putting my guys down 2-0. It’s disappointing. I just don’t want it to wear on them and it is. We’re just not that good right now.”
The Minute Maid Park roof was closed for the first time this season, but Astros manager Phil Garner didn’t think it would affect play. “If you hit it, it will go,” Garner said. “I think there is too much ado about that. If the wind is blowing in some places it might help.” … In his last start, Clemens extended his streak to 26 scoreless innings on the road this season. That’s the longest such streak since Doug Jones started the 1988 season with 26 scoreless innings for the Indians. … Casey’s third-inning single extended his hitting streak to seven games. … Cincinnati’s Felipe Lopez singled in the third inning and extended his hitting streak to 12 games.