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Thursday, September 21, 2006
Rocket to start Astros' home finale on three days' rest

Associated Press

HOUSTON -- Roger Clemens will start Houston's home finale against St. Louis on Sunday.

"The Rocket is going to come back," manager Phil Garner said Thursday night after the Astros' 6-5 victory over the St. Louis Cardinals.

Starting Pitcher
Houston Astros

17 7 5 28 89 2.37

Clemens (7-5) pitched six scoreless innings in the Astros' 7-2 win over Cincinnati on Wednesday, the last game he was scheduled to pitch at Minute Maid Park.

Astros owner Drayton McLane told the Houston Chronicle that Clemens came to him and said he would be willing to pitch Sunday, on three days' rest. Garner had said before Thursday's game that Clemens could possibly start Sunday, under certain circumstances.

"He reported he feels pretty good and he feels he can do it," Garner said. "The other thing is, we have to do as good as we can against St. Louis."

Clemens, who was not available for comment, earned career win No. 348 against the Reds and lowered his season ERA to 2.37.

The Astros were 5½ games out of the NL wild-card race entering Thursday's games. Garner thinks his team has to win all of its last 11 games to make the playoffs -- and Clemens gives them their best chance Sunday.

"The more important thing is we're not going to throw in the towel," Garner said. "We're going to play like we're going to keep winning."

Clemens received a standing ovation from the crowd of 31,298 and tipped his cap as he walked off the field before the seventh inning Wednesday. The 44-year-old came out for a curtain call, doffing his cap again.

The warm farewell turned out to be premature.

"We're asking a lot of a big man like him," Garner said, "but we've got to put the best we have out there."