HOUSTON (AP) – Roger Clemens was foiled again by a lack of run support, and Jack Wilson homered off Brad Lidge in the ninth inning to give the Pittsburgh Pirates a 1-0 victory Saturday night over the Houston Astros.

Clemens allowed two hits in eight shutout innings, lowering his major league-leading ERA to an incredible 1.32. He struck out nine and walked none, but the Astros couldn’t muster any offense against Kip Wells and two relievers.

It was the ninth no-decision for the 43-year-old Clemens, and the sixth time the Astros have failed to score for him. He threw an economical 88 pitches but has not gone longer than eight innings this season.

Salomon Torres (3-4) worked a scoreless eighth, and Jose Mesa struck out two in a perfect ninth for his 27th save in 30 chances.

Wilson homered to left leading off the ninth against Lidge (3-3), his seventh.

Six of Clemens’ strikeouts came in the first four innings. The seven-time Cy Young Award winner did not allow a baserunner until the fifth, when Rob Mackowiak led off with a single that rolled past the outstretched glove of second baseman Craig Biggio.

By the sixth inning, Clemens had more hits than the Pirates after slapping his second single to right field. That hit and his single in the fourth each moved Brad Ausmus to third, but rookie Willy Taveras grounded out to end both innings.

It was an unusually poor night for Taveras, who leads all rookies with 131 hits. He also had an inning-ending grounder to shortstop in the second after the Astros loaded the bases.

Wells, a Houston-area native just like Clemens, allowed six hits and walked four in seven innings before he was relieved by Torres. The Astros stranded 11 runners.

Clemens is 8-1 since May and has allowed just 13 earned runs during that span.

The Rocket briefly retired two years ago and nearly did so again after last season. But the NL’s reigning Cy Young Award winner returned to make $18 million this season, his 24th in the majors. It is the biggest salary ever for a pitcher and the largest one-year contract in baseball history.

Notes: Clemens stayed stuck on 339 career wins. … Clemens remained unbeaten in five career starts against the Pirates. … Pirates RF Jason Bay has reached base safely in 28 straight games.

AP-ES-08-13-05 2158EDT


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