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Clement takes no-hitter into 7th, settles for 2-hitter

5/29/2002

PITTSBURGH (AP) -- Matt Clement had never pitched a complete game
in the majors, much less a shutout. Still, even the opposing
Pittsburgh Pirates were surprised that on such a dominating night,
Clement didn't throw a no-hitter.

Clement took a no-hitter into the seventh before Brian Giles
singled, then settled for a two-hitter in his first career complete
game and shutout to lead the Chicago Cubs past the Pirates 3-0
Tuesday night.

''He had no-hit stuff,'' Pirates manager Lloyd McClendon said.
''His stuff was electrifying. He threw his breaking ball for
strikes even when he was behind in the count. It was just a
tremendous outing.''

Clement (3-3), whose longest previous start was 8 1-3 innings
against Los Angeles on July 4, 2000, didn't give up anything
resembling a hit until Giles lined a clean single up the middle
leading off the seventh.

Clement, who grew up about 40 miles from Pittsburgh in Butler,
Pa., also gave up Adrian Brown's eighth-inning single, but worked
out of his biggest jam that inning, striking out Chad Hermansen
with two on and two outs. He struck out eight and walked three in
the Cubs' fourth shutout this season.

''No-hitters are a freak in baseball. Pitching good is what I'm
excited about,'' said Clement, who was cheered on by about 100
family members and friends. ''The big thing for me is I kept going.
After I gave up the hit, I didn't fold up.''

Clement's exceptional start gives hope to manager Don Baylor
that with Kerry Wood, Jon Lieber, the just-promoted Mark Prior and
Clement, starting pitching will help the Cubs (20-30) turn their
season around. They have won six of eight despite losing their
previous two.

''For us to get to back to .500, it has to be with our
pitching,'' Baylor said. ''We have to be able to dominate from time
to time.''

Two of Clement's three victories are against the Pirates, also
beating them 11-2 on Thursday in Wrigley Field. He also struck out
a career high-tying 12 Pirates on April 13 at PNC Park, but lost
3-1.

The 27-year-old Clement has always had tremendous potential, but
wildness always held him back as he walked 324 in 622 2-3 career
innings before Tuesday, or more than one every other inning.

This time, Clement shook off the three walks while sailing
through nearly every inning against the NL's weakest-hitting club.
Until the seventh, the only thing resembling a hit was Hermansen's
long fly ball in the sixth that left fielder Roosevelt Brown ran
down near the warning track.

''Actually, I thought the ball that Chad Hermansen hit was off
the wall or gone and I thought the ball Giles hit was a ground-ball
out,'' Clement said. ''A no-hitter would have been great but, right
now, finally getting the complete game and the shutout is great.''

The right-hander threw 112 pitches -- only six in the ninth
inning -- in completing the Cubs' first two-hitter since Jon Lieber
did it against the Pirates on July 3, 2000.

Clement's only scare in the early innings came during the Cubs'
three-run third when he was hit on the right forearm by a Kris
Benson pitch. That prompted McClendon to lift Benson (0-3), who
struggled for the third time in four starts since returning from
reconstructive elbow surgery, giving up five hits and three runs in
2 2-3 innings.

''It's definitely frustrating -- anybody would be frustrated --
but all I can do is keep working and pitching and wait for it to
click in,'' said Benson, who has a 9.72 ERA.

Bill Mueller started the three-run inning with a double and
scored on Sammy Sosa's ground-ball single up the middle. After Fred
McGriff walked and a force play, Alex Gonzalez's RBI single made it
2-0. Bobby Hill was intentionally walked to load the bases,
allowing Clement to force in the third run when he was hit with the
pitch.

Game notes
The Pirates have had 12 hours and 58 minutes of rain delays
at home this season, counting the 22-minute delay at the start
Tuesday. ... The Pirates haven't had a complete game this season.
... Giles is 8-for-20 against Clement. ... Clement took a
one-hitter into the eighth inning against Arizona on Aug. 7, 2001,
but Damian Miller hit a three-run homer. ... Clement was dealt from
San Diego to Florida last season and then to the Cubs this year. He
still has a below-.500 career record (37-42). ... The Cubs didn't
have a hit over the final 6 1-3 innings against relievers Joe
Beimel, Ron Villone and Brian Boehringer until Corey Patterson's
two-out single in the ninth. ... Clement already has started
against Pittsburgh four times this season. ... No opposing pitcher
has thrown a no-hitter in Pittsburgh since St. Louis' Bob Gibson in
1971, Three Rivers Stadium's second season. ... The only one-hitter
in PNC Park was by Todd Ritchie against Kansas City on July 13,
2001.