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Soriano, Posada homer in 17th for Yanks

6/2/2003
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DETROIT (AP) -- The Clemens family and some very close friends are now planning an unexpected trip to Chicago. They're also scrambling for some tough tickets.

The Rocket misfired again.

Roger Clemens remained one victory shy of career No. 300 when
the Detroit Tigers, of all teams, rallied from six runs down Sunday to spoil history.

"We're glad that Roger is going to have to do it somewhere
else,'' Tigers manager Alan Trammell said.

The Yankees salvaged something, however, as Alfonso Soriano and
Jorge Posada homered off Steve Sparks in the 17th inning to give
New York a 10-9 win.

Clemens' chase of 300 will continue next weekend in Chicago.

The six-time Cy Young award winner is scheduled to start
Saturday at Wrigley Field against Cubs ace Kerry Wood.

The Yankees haven't played at Wrigley since the 1938 World
Series, and Clemens has never pitched in a game inside the
ballpark's ivy-covered walls.

"The family doesn't get together too often on the road, so this
is nice for me,'' said Clemens, who had 60 family members and
friends on hand. "And they're getting to see some different
ballparks.''

Wood lost Sunday for the Cubs, and later found out he'd be
pitching in Clemens' next bid for No. 300.

"Super,'' Wood said, sounding as if he'd hoped Clemens had
gotten the milestone out of the way. "So I can't wait until that
day comes.''

The 40-year-old Clemens lasted six innings against Detroit,
leaving with a 8-6 lead and needing just nine outs from his bullpen
to become the 21st pitcher with 300 wins.

But the Tigers, baseball's worst team this season, came back
from a 7-1 deficit by scoring five runs off Clemens and the
Yankees' shaky infield in the fifth. Detroit then tied it in the
seventh while the six-time Cy Young award winner watched
helplessly.

"You've got a 7-1 lead and Roger on the hill, that's icing on
the cake,'' said David Wells (7-2), who got his 192nd career win in
his first relief appearance since 1993.

"It's just a shame because we thought it was in the bag. All
the sudden, an error here and there, they got back in the game.''

Clemens, who lost to Boston on May 26 in his first crack at No.
300, finished with a no-decision before a disappointed Comerica
Park record crowd of 44,095 which came to see something special --
not a rare Detroit comeback.

Clemens was bidding to become the first pitcher to get win No.
300 since 1990 when Nolan Ryan, one his idols, did it. Clemens can
still match Ryan, who needed three starts to reach the milestone.

"Not at all,'' Clemens said when asked if he was disappointed.
"There are some guys disappointed inside (the clubhouse). Some of
the relievers are a little upset. It will be great to get it over
with and move on to something else.''

Derek Jeter and Todd Zeile also homered for the Yankees, whose
four errors were a season-high.

Wells, who missed a turn in the rotation with a bruised calf,
allowed one run and three hits in 5 2/3 innings. He gave up an RBI
double to Eric Munson in the 17th before Juan Acevedo, the Tigers'
closer last season, got one out for his sixth save.

Soriano opened the 17th with a homer off Sparks (0-2) and one
out later, Posada connected to end the longest game at Comerica
since it opened three years ago.

Before the Tigers' comeback, Clemens, whose career has been
defined by gaudy numbers, appeared to be a lock for initiation in
the 300-victory club.

From his first pitch, a 91 mph fastball that Alex Sanchez popped
up to short, Clemens looked as if he might dominate the Tigers, who
came in batting a major league-low .215.

Clemens allowed just one run and two hits through the first four
innings. But nursing a 7-1 lead and three outs from qualifying for
a decision, Clemens and the Yankees' defense unraveled together.

New York made three errors in the fifth while Clemens gave up
four straight hits, including a two-run homer to No. 9 hitter Gene
Kingsale, who hadn't connected this season.

Jeter and Soriano had consecutive errors in the inning behind
Clemens, who complicated matters with his only walk and a wild
pitch.

"It was just one of those things,'' said Jeter, who added that
the infield dirt was unusually hard. "It happens. Everything went
right for them and everything went wrong for us.''

Clemens finished with six strikeouts, and now needs only nine to
join Ryan (5,714) and Steve Carlton (4,136) as the only pitchers to
reach 4,000.

Clemens was hoping he could end his pursuit of 300, so it
doesn't become a distraction for his teammates. Apparently, it
already is.

"I think everybody was trying too hard and just didn't get it
done,'' said manager Joe Torre, who lifted Clemens after 107
pitches. "Everybody wants this for Roger.''

Clemens stuck to his proven pregame ritual before facing the
Tigers. After working out, he quickly showered and on his way out
of New York's clubhouse, he stopped to share a word with Hall of
Fame slugger Reggie Jackson.

"Glad you're here,'' Clemens told Jackson.

"Glad to be here,'' Mr. October said.

So were thousands of Yankees fans, who helped pack Comerica
Park, which hasn't had many big crowds or big games since the
ballpark opened in 2000.

Fans hung from the iron fence on Adams Street beyond the
outfield wall while others gathered on the upper deck of a parking
garage to see Clemens pitch.

"I hope the fans enjoyed it, they had to love this game,'' said
Tigers catcher Brandon Inge. "This is near the top when it comes
to a game -- you had Roger Clemens going for 300, and after that
ended, you basically had 10 more innings of great baseball.''

Game notes
Clemens has given up a total of 14 runs in his last two
starts. The most he's ever allowed in consecutive starts is 15, in
June 2000 against Atlanta and the Mets, according to the Elias
Sports Bureau. ... Comerica's previous largest crowd was 41,248 on
opening day in 2002. ... It was the longest game in Detroit since
April 27, 1984, when the Tigers lost to Cleveland in 19 innings.