Astros keep edge; Phillies still clinging

By Associated press
Published October 2, 2005

Roger Clemens got a little run support and guaranteed the Houston Astros at least a tie in the NL wild-card race.

Clemens allowed one run in seven innings while pitching on a sore left hamstring, leading the Astros over the Chicago Cubs 3-1 Saturday and putting host Houston on the brink of a return to the playoffs.

Houston (88-73) heads into the regular season's final day with a one-game lead in the wild card over Philadelphia (87-74), which won 8-4 at Washington.

Roy Oswalt (19-12) is scheduled to start today for Houston, which clinched last year's wild-card berth on the final day. If the Astros lose and the Phillies win, Houston would go to Philadelphia for a one-game tiebreaker playoff Monday.

From the Phillies' perspective, today is a day to win and hope for help. They haven't been to the postseason since 1993.

At Houston on Saturday, Jason Lane had a run-scoring single in the sixth that put the Astros ahead 2-1. That was plenty for Clemens, whose 1.87 ERA is the best in the majors.

Clemens skipped his previous turn in the rotation because of the hamstring, and the leg appeared to keep him from his sharpest. He allowed six hits and struck out five, including the 4,500th strikeout of his career, before being lifted for a pinch-hitter. It was the 341st victory of his career.

Mainly because of poor run support, the right-hander, 43, had won just two of his previous nine outings.

Brad Lidge, whose blown save Friday night cost the Astros, worked a perfect ninth for his 41st save.

At Washington, Philadelphia's Chase Utley homered twice, Ryan Howard hit an upper-deck shot and a three-run double.

Brett Myers had a career-high 12 strikeouts while limiting Washington to three runs on six hits and a walk over 62/3 innings. He left with runners at first and third, but reliever Ryan Madson closed out the inning.

Madson, Aaron Fultz, Ugueth Urbina and Billy Wagner got the final seven outs, giving up a run. The last five Nationals outs were strikeouts.

The Phillies, meanwhile, kept tacking on runs, much to the delight of the sizable contingent of fans wearing white P's instead of W's on their red hats.

Jimmy Rollins slapped a double just inside the bag at first on the game's first pitch to extend his hitting streak to 35 games, tied for the ninth-longest in major-league history.