Dodgers 1, Astros 0

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LOS ANGELES (AP)—The zeros keep piling up for Roger Clemens. Unfortunately for him, they are on the Houston Astros’ side of the scoreboard.

Clemens again got no run support, as his former Yankees teammate Jeff Weaver combined with Duaner Sanchez on an eight-hitter to lead the Los Angeles Dodgers to a 1-0 victory on Sunday.

It was the eighth time in Clemens’ 27 starts this season the Astros were shut out, and the fifth time by a 1-0 score—including three games that went extra innings.

“I don’t bat an eye at that,” said Clemens, who was trying for his 340th career win. “That’s baseball. I don’t put a lot of stock in it either way. I’ve had my share of wins. If I was worried about that and how many games that I’ve had some tough luck over my 22 years, it would probably drive you crazy. So I don’t worry about that.

“These are really good games, fun to pitch in and fun to battle in, but I wish they’d come out on our side a little more often.”

Weaver (13-8) allowed seven hits in eight innings, struck out 10 and walked none. The right-hander had nine strikeouts over the first five innings— already tying the season high for any Dodgers pitcher—and escaped a bases-loaded jam in the second by striking out Clemens after a two-out infield single by Brad Ausmus.

Sanchez got three outs for his fourth save, as Weaver won his sixth straight decision over nine starts.

“When you face a guy like Roger, you’ve got to be on top of your game,” said Weaver, who set a career high for wins. “You don’t expect too much, so you take it as a 0-0 ballgame throughout the game and hope that somewhere along the line you pull out in front and win—like we did today.”

Clemens allowed two hits and struck out five in six innings, but the Dodgers scored in the eighth on Oscar Robles’ RBI single off Chad Qualls (4-3). The hit scored Hee-Seop Choi, who doubled with two outs as a pinch-hitter for Weaver.

“Jeff is having a pretty good year, from what I understand, and he pitched well today,” Clemens said. “He had a tremendous breaking ball and was able to spot his fastball. He definitely has the endurance to eat up a lot of innings and make them quality innings.”

Before this season, Clemens had 27 shutout losses in 640 regular season starts. The Astros were not blanked in any of his 33 starts last season, when he won his record seventh Cy Young Award with an 18-4 record. This was the team’s 16th loss by shutout this season, the most in the majors.

Pitching in stifling 92-degree heat, the 43-year-old Clemens threw 26 pitches in the second inning and 25 in the fourth while lowering his major league-leading ERA from 1.56 to 1.51. Last Tuesday, he lost 2-0 at San Diego while retiring 17 consecutive batters at one point in his first complete game since July 30, 2003.

“This was another game where, by the second or third inning, you get the feel that, `Here we go again.”’ Clemens said. “You want to have good stuff and make good pitches. Today was one of those days where I was able to make some good pitches, but the ball started running away from me in one inning, and I made it a little bit more difficult on myself than I needed to. Overall, it was a battle.”

Craig Biggio was sent up to bat for Clemens in the seventh after a one-out single by Ausmus. Biggio, who has been hit by a major league-record 271 pitches, leaned into the first pitch he saw from Weaver and it struck him near the left elbow. But umpire Doug Eddings ordered Biggio to stay in the batter’s box, ruling that he did not attempt to get out of the way.

“I thought it was a great call,” Weaver said. “Biggio got his elbow all the way to the outer third of the plate, and with that huge guard on his arm, there’s no incentive for him to move. I’m pretty sure that pitch would have been a strike if he didn’t put his elbow out there.”

Biggio and manager Phil Garner argued with Eddings to no avail. Biggio then flied out to right field and slammed his bat in disgust before running to first base. Eddings pointed to the bat, signifying that Biggio would be fined for his actions, then ejected him for continuing the argument. Biggio threw his batting helmet away and at one point had to be restrained by third base coach Doug Mansolino. Garner was ejected moments later by Eddings.

“Maybe he read the article where I said that’s never happened to me before,” Biggio said. “I mean, I’ve had some that were questionable—but, come on. I’m sitting on the bench all day, the guy throws a slider at you and it hits you in the middle of the batter’s box. That was only my second ejection. I guess I’m a big troublemaker.”

Notes

Former Brooklyn Dodgers pitcher Carl Erskine played “God Bless America” and the National Anthem on his harmonica. … Johnny Podres, who went the distance to beat the Yankees 2-0 in Game 7 of the 1955 World Series, threw a ceremonial first pitch to Roy Campanella II, the son of the legendary Brooklyn catcher and three-time NL MVP, who died in 1993, at age 71.

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