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Clemens wins No. 324

CHICAGO (AP) -- Brad Lidge saved a victory for Roger Clemens with
an extended work day, and the surging Houston Astros scored three
runs on a ground ball Saturday to beat the Chicago Cubs.

"Lidge is getting saves the old-fashioned way. We've had to
bring him in in the eighth inning. He's having to do serious work
to get them," Astros manager Phil Garner said after a 7-6 win.

Clemens (14-4) allowed five runs and eight hits in a six-inning
stint on a cool, windy day at Wrigley Field to get his 324th career
win.

Staked to an early 5-0 lead, Clemens tied Don Sutton and Nolan
Ryan for 12th place on the career wins list with a big assist from
Lidge -- and third baseman Mike Lamb.

"I've been around long enough to know that a lot of things
don't come easy, and this was one of those games," Clemens said.
"Once the guys jumped out there and got me a nice lead, you still
have to fight and scratch to get through."

Lidge struck out two in the eighth to stop a Chicago rally and
finished for his 18th save in 21 chances. With a man on first in
the ninth, Michael Barrett hit a hard liner down the third-base
line, and Lamb made a diving catch on the foul line to end the
game.

"A great play by Lamb out there. He kind of speared the line
drive," Lidge said. "I don't even know if was fair or foul."

With its 10th win in 13 games, Houston pulled within five games
of Chicago, which holds a one-game lead over San Francisco in the
NL wild-card race.

The 42-year-old Clemens, meanwhile, moved up again on the career
victories list.

"It's longevity," Clemens said. "I've been fortunate to be
mentioned with a lot of great men that played before me and I have
a lot of respect for. It's a privilege to join them. Everything
that has happened this year has been just a bonus again for me
because I never expected to be continuing on this journey."

Jeff Bagwell had an RBI double in the first, and two errors on a
grounder helped the Astros score four runs in the second inning
against Carlos Zambrano (12-8).

Lamb doubled to start the inning and scored on a single by Jose
Vizcaino, who was thrown out trying to reach second. After Brad
Ausmus doubled, Clemens bounced out and Zambrano loaded the bases
with walks to Craig Biggio and Carlos Beltran.

Bagwell hit a harder grounder to first baseman Derrek Lee, who
made a nice stop while he was falling down and then threw to first,
where Zambrano dropped the ball for an error.

Zambrano picked the ball up and threw home, but Barrett dropped
that throw for another error as Biggio scored. And when the ball
got behind Barrett, an alert Beltran kept running and also scored.

"The strangest play I've ever seen. An infield hit and all
three runs scored," Cubs manager Dusty Baker said.

"Obviously, if you watch the replay, I closed the glove too
soon. That was a quick play and I have to make it," Zambrano said.

Chicago pulled to 5-2 in the third on Todd Walker's RBI single
past the mound and Moises Alou's sacrifice fly.

With a light rain beginning to fall, Bagwell hit a RBI single in
the sixth that finished Zambrano, who gave up seven runs -- just
three earned -- seven hits and season-high six walks in 5 2-3
innings. Three of the walks went to Beltran, whose streak of
consecutive games with a homer ended at five.

Ryan Dempster loaded the bases with a walk to Lance Berkman, and
Houston made it 7-2 when third baseman Aramis Ramirez mishandled
Kent's grounder for Chicago's third error.

But the Cubs got three back in the bottom of the inning when
Ramirez hit a run-scoring single, and pinch-hitter Jose Macias had
RBI grounders.

Nomar Garciaparra's pinch-hit single in the eighth off Chad
Qualls pulled the Cubs to 7-6. Lidge then struck out Corey
Patterson, loaded the bases with a walk to Lee, then struck out
Todd Walker.

Game notes
Garciaparra didn't start, resting his sore wrist and
Achilles' tendon. He also is 8-for-47 (.170) in his career against
Clemens. The two were teammates with the Red Sox briefly in 1996.
... Astros 3B Morgan Ensberg did not play after leaving Friday's
game with back spasms. ... Game-time temperature was 69 degrees and
the wind was blowing in from left field at 13 mph.