Astros 3, Dodgers 2

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HOUSTON (AP)—Roger Clemens was victimized by poor run support again.

The Rocket allowed two runs in seven strong innings but didn’t get a decision as the Houston Astros beat the Los Angeles Dodgers 3-2 Friday night on Morgan Ensberg’s run-scoring double in the ninth.

Clemens, 4-0 in seven starts since May 30, gave up eight hits, struck out four and walked one. His ERA, the best in the major leagues, rose to 1.48 from 1.41 as he settled for his eighth no-decision of the year.

The 42-year-old right-hander, selected an All-Star for the 11th time, is 7-3 in 18 starts this year, and the Astros have scored three runs or fewer in five of his no-decisions. He had lost in his only previous appearance against the Dodgers, the only major league team he had not faced at least twice.

“The disappointing thing earlier in the year was that I’d have to answer questions like this after we’d lose,” Clemens said. “But this is a whole lot nicer. I’ve had a number of games in my career like this. That’s just part of baseball.”

Still, the Astros knew Clemens had given them another good start.

“I wouldn’t put this up with his best games,” Houston manager Phil Garner said. “But that just shows you how really good he is. He did not have his best location, but he still found a way to keep us in the game.”

Willy Taveras led off the ninth with his 41st infield single, sliding headfirst into the base to beat the throw from first baseman Hee-Seop Choi to reliever Yhency Brazoban (2-3). Craig Biggio sacrificed, and the Dodgers chose to intentionally walk Lance Berkman, who was 3-for-3.

Ensberg, thus far omitted from the NL All-Star team, then doubled to deep right center, collecting his 10th game-winning RBI this season. Ensberg was inspired by the intentional walk.

“It always does,” Ensberg said. “Even though you know it’s the right strategy since Lance was really hot. But that still gives you a little bit more intensity.”

Brad Lidge (3-2) pitched a perfect ninth for the Astros, who have won five of six and 14 of 18.

Los Angeles has lost five of seven.

Rookie D.J. Houlton, selected by the Dodgers from Houston in the winter meeting draft, gave up two runs and six hits in 6 2-3 innings.

“We faced one of the toughest and possibly one of the greatest pitchers in the history of the game,” manager Jim Tracy said. “We sent a young pitcher out there who matched him pitch by pitch, inning by inning. D.J. did a great job. We only had one offensive opportunity and we made the best of it.”

Catcher Jason Phillips agreed.

“D.J. threw a great game,” Phillips said. “We just couldn’t score any runs. Tonight we faced one of the all-time greats and against him you have to take advantage of every opportunity. He didn’t make many mistakes but he made one to me and I couldn’t hit it out.

“We knew we were going to have to struggle for runs with him pitching. You hope you can just get a couple when he makes a mistake. And we were fortunate to do that.”

Jason Lane’s sacrifice fly put Houston ahead in the first inning, and Clemens helped preserve the lead in the third when he fielded Oscar Robles’ grounder and trapped Mike Edwards in a rundown between second and third.

Taveras started a double play in the fourth when he caught Hee-Seop Choi’s fly to center and doubled up Jeff Kent at second base.

Los Angeles took a 2-1 lead in the fifth when Robles’ hit an RBI grounder and Kent had a run-scoring single, the 2,000th hit of his major league career,

Berkman’s RBI triple made it 2-2 in the seventh.


RHP Wandy Rodriguez was optioned to Double A Corpus Christi so he could get a start during the All-Star break. Garner said the team would recall Rodriguez for his regular start in the Pittsburgh doubleheader July 19. The Astros will announce a corresponding move before Saturday’s game. … Biggio’s single in the first left him two hits short of tying Barry Bonds for 49th on the career list at 2,728. … It was the first triple of the season for Berkman, who says his surgically repaired right knee still bothers him.

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