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Clemens now No. 11 in all-time wins

ST. LOUIS (AP) -- Roger Clemens shut down the St. Louis
Cardinals' potent offense, doing his part to keep the Houston
Astros in the NL wild-card race.

Clemens won his 327th game with seven strong innings and the
Astros held on for a 7-5 victory on Tuesday night.

The Cardinals' 3-4-5-6 hitters were a combined 0-for-11 with
four strikeouts against Clemens.

"He was fantastic," manager Phil Garner said. "He did a super
job."

Lance Berkman matched a career high with four hits, including a
three-run double that highlighted a five-run fourth. The Astros
have won 15 of 18 and remained a game behind San Francisco, 3-2
winners at Milwaukee, and a half-game back of the Cubs, who beat
Pittsburgh 3-2 in 12 innings, for the wild card.

Tony Womack had three hits, a stolen base and scored on a
first-inning double play for St. Louis, which has lost five of
seven.

"We made a good run at it," manager Tony La Russa said. "I
know they were worried at the end and we were excited, but it's
tough getting down to a great pitcher."

Clemens (17-4) passed Eddie Plank and moved into a tie with John
Clarkson (1882-94) for 10th, while improving to 3-0 with a 1.64 ERA
in four starts against the Cardinals this year. He's tied with
teammate Roy Oswalt and the Marlins' Carl Pavano for the NL victory
lead and is tied for the major league lead in winning percentage
with the Athletics' Mark Mulder, also 17-4.

"The hitters gave me a nice cushion and it was my job to go out
there and keep the lead and throw strikes," said Clemens, who
matched his win total from last season for the Yankees. "That's
all I was trying to do.

"I was just real fortunate we scored just enough runs, as it
turns out."

Clemens, who allowed one run on five hits with five strikeouts
and two walks, is 10-1 with a 3.53 ERA against the NL Central. His
only trouble came in the first when Womack reached on a leadoff
infield hit, went to third on a hit-and-run single by Larry Walker
and scored on Albert Pujols' double-play ball.

Russ Springer pitched the eighth and Darren Oliver gave up two
hits and a walk, including Mike Matheny's RBI single in the ninth
before being relieved by Dan Miceli with two outs.

Cody McKay greeted Miceli with a two-run double. Pinch-hitter
Reggie Sanders then hit a popup and shortstop Eric Bruntlett and
third baseman Mike Lamb collided, letting the ball drop for an
error on Bruntlett and allowing McKay to score to make it 7-5.

Brad Lidge entered with Sanders on second and intentionally
walked Pujols after falling behind in the count 3-1. The runners
advanced to second and third on a wild pitch before So Taguchi
struck out for Lidge's 23rd save in 25 chances.

"I haven't seen a popup like that fall like that in I can't
remember when," Garner said. "That was a little unusual. Other
than that, it's just another day at work."

A leadoff double by Jeff Kent, who had three hits, and a one-out
RBI single by Jose Vizcaino off Jeff Suppan (15-7) tied the score
in the second.

The Astros took the lead in the third when Carlos Beltran
tripled and scored on a groundout by Jeff Bagwell. Houston batted
around in the fourth, including a bases-loaded walk by Bagwell and
an RBI double by Kent, but none of the runs were earned following
Pujols' two-out fielding error on Beltran's tapper to first.

"The bottom line is I have to get out of the inning," Suppan
said. "If I was able to do that I think it would have been a
different outcome with the way we fought back and played in the
ninth."

Suppan, who won his six previous starts, gave up sven runs -- two
earned -- on 10 hits in 3 2-3 innings to lose for the first time
since July 23 against the Giants. It was the second-shortest outing
of season for Suppan, who also lost to Clemens and the Astros on
April 13 in St. Louis.

He's 9-0 with a 3.17 ERA on the road, but 6-7 at home with a
4.66 ERA.

Game notes
The Cardinals received approval from major league baseball
to begin selling tickets for the postseason on Sept. 22. ...
Vizcaino went 1-for-2 Tuesday against Suppan and is 13-for-18
against him in his career. ... Suppan is 1-3 against the Astros
with a 3.04 ERA this year. ... Craig Biggio singled twice and is
batting .338 (22-for-65) during a 14-game hitting streak. ... Scott
Rolen, the Cardinals' cleanup hitter, missed his third straight
game with a pulled left calf muscle.