Rocket gets first win in 3 weeks

HOUSTON (AP) -- Roger Clemens was briefly reminded of better
times this season, when the Houston Astros were rolling and the
postseason seemed a certainty.

The Rocket came through, once again, when the Astros really
needed him to.

Clemens won his first game in three weeks and Houston tied a
season high with three homers in a 5-3 victory over the San Diego
Padres on Sunday, stopping a four-game losing streak and giving
Phil Garner his first win as the Astros' manager.

"Our guys jumped out there and gave me a lead, and that makes
you want to hang on," Clemens said. "We scored some runs late,
just like we used to when we were winning early this season."

Clemens (11-3), rocked for six runs in the first inning during
Tuesday's All-Star game in Houston, had been 0-1 in three starts
since beating Pittsburgh on June 24.

He retired 16 consecutive batters starting with the final out of
the first and got his 321st win, moving three behind Nolan Ryan and
Don Sutton, who share 12th place on the career list. Clemens
allowed two runs and four hits in seven innings, striking out five
to raise his career total to 4,225.

Clemens had insisted that he quickly recovered from his
miserable outing in the All-Star game. Then he went out and proved

"I felt fine Tuesday ... there were a lot of distractions, but
I had no excuses," Clemens said. "I don't concern myself with
things like that. I was showcasing the city, and I would do it
again. I have no regrets on that."

Brad Lidge got three outs for his eighth save in 10 chances,
allowing Ryan Klesko's homer before completing the five-hitter.

The Astros remained a season-high 12 games behind NL
Central-leading St. Louis. Houston faces its largest deficit in the
division race since 2000, a big disappointment for a team that
began this season with World Series hopes.

"As bleak as our season has been going," Houston's Jeff Kent
said, "obviously we're looking for some light at the end of the

Carlos Beltran, Kent and Craig Biggio hit solo homers, and Adam
Everett went 3-for-4 with a two-run double as Houston avoided
getting swept in the three-game series. Beltran's first-inning
homer was his seventh since the Astros acquired him from Kansas
City on June 24, but his first in Houston.

Garner, who replaced Jimy Williams on Wednesday, got his first
win since he was Detroit's manager in 2001. He was fired by the
Tigers the following spring after an 0-6 start.

"Just watching Roger Clemens pitch is something else. He's a
surgeon," Garner said. "I've been watching him a long time now.
But before, it's from the other side. It sure is nice to be on the
other side."

Brian Lawrence (10-7) allowed five runs and a season-high 10
hits in 6 2-3 innings.

Kent's homer in the second and Biggio's in the sixth built a 3-0

Brian Giles' single leading off the seventh gave San Diego its
first runner since the opening inning, Lance Berkman misjudged Jay
Payton's drive to right for an RBI double and Humberto Quintero
followed with an RBI groundout that pulled San Diego to 3-2.

But Everett rebuilt the lead with his two-out double in the
bottom half.

"I was glad, because it let everybody take a deep breath and
relax," Everett said. "It's kind of like the beginning of the
year for us now. We started out 0-2 and Roger came in and got a big
win for us. I don't see anything different."

Game notes
The Astros have not been swept at home by San Diego since
July 1999. ... Clemens faced the Padres for only the second time in
his career. ... Biggio, who went 3-for-4, moved into second place
on the Astros' career homer list with his 224th. ... San Diego
dropped to 13-5 at Minute Maid Park. The Padres trail only San
Francisco (15-3) as the road team with the best record.