NLDS: Trying to pitch mistake-free, Clemens falters

By wire services
Published October 7, 2005

ATLANTA - It began like a typical Roger Clemens start - 1-2-3 and out for the Braves in the opening inning.

That, however, was the only time the 43-year-old Houston right-hander would retire the Braves in order.

Atlanta rookie Brian McCann hit a three-run homer off the seven-time Cy Young Award winner in the second, and Adam LaRoche had a two-run double in the third. The Braves won 7-1 Thursday.

And, once again, Clemens, the major-league leader with a 1.87 ERA, got little run support.

"The home run killed us," Clemens said. "You can't make that mistake there, a fastball back over the zone. A hittable pitch."

The Astros' Jason Lane had a run-scoring single in the first but Houston left the bases loaded when John Smoltz struck out Adam Everett to end the inning. Houston never threatened again against Smoltz.

Houston scored three or fewer runs in 20 of Clemens' 32 regular-season starts. The Astros were shut out in nine of them.

"You have to be mistake-free, so I was trying to be as stingy as possible," Clemens said.

Clemens went five innings. He allowed six hits, five runs, walked three and struck out two and left after 93 pitches. His five earned runs equaled the most he allowed during a regular-season game.

" Brad ( Ausmus) and I were working like we normally do, they just got some key hits," Clemens said.

Clemens was 13-8 in the regular season. A hamstring injury forced him to miss a start late in the season, but he said Wednesday it was fine.

Only for an inning Thursday night, though.

RELIEVER'S DAD DIES: John King, the father of Cardinals reliever Ray King, died Thursday after a long battle with cancer. Ray King did not play Thursday. He accompanied the team to San Diego for Game 3 and will attend the funeral in Tennessee on Tuesday.

Griffey, Giambi honored for comebacks

Ken Griffey of the Cincinnati Reds and Jason Giambi of the New York Yankees were named comeback players of the year after both missed half their team's games in 2004.

Giambi, 34, received the most votes in an Internet poll from fans among AL candidates. He hit 32 home runs and batted .271. Injuries last year limited Giambi to 12 home runs and a .208 batting average.

Fans picked Griffey, 35, in the NL after the outfielder hit .301 with 35 home runs, his best season in five years. Last season he batted .264 with 16 home runs.