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M's scoreless in last 21 innings; Kent gets hit

SEATTLE (AP) -- Wade Miller followed Roger Clemens' big outing
with one of his own.

Miller pitched the Houston Astros to their second straight
shutout of the Seattle Mariners, combining with three relievers for
a 3-0 victory Wednesday night.

One night after Clemens beat Seattle 1-0 for his 319th career
win, the Astros earned their fifth shutout of the season.

Miller, who threw the first six innings, certainly enjoys
pitching after Clemens.

"Usually we follow a win so we just try to keep it going,"
Miller said. "Just watching him pitch and go after hitters is
exciting."

Miller (6-6), who had lost three of his last four starts, gave
up six hits, struck out four and walked two.

"It's been kind of up and down," he said. "So this was a big
start for me to come in here and do well. I had good stuff today.
It's just been a matter of my mechanics being on."

Miller has no plans to change his style just because he follows
Clemens in the rotation.

"He has a little different stuff than I do," Miller said. "So
it's not like we're throwing back-to-back with the same stuff."

Jeff Kent blooped a single to center in the eighth inning,
extending his career-best hitting streak to 24 games and tying the
Astros' record set by Tony Eusebio in 2000.

Kent seemed almost embarrassed to talk about his hitting streak.
He went 1-for-3.

"These things just happen, especially tonight, kind of an ugly,
bleeding hit out there," he said. "[Freddy] Garcia was wearing me
out. He was wearing a lot of us out. He was throwing high fastballs
and high cutters up top, sinkers. We had a hard time catching up."

The Mariners were blanked for the seventh time, most in the AL.
They are batting .259, 13th in the AL ahead of only Tampa Bay.

"You can't win if you can't score. We know what we need to
do," Dan Wilson said.

The Astros took two of three in the series despite scoring only
four runs. The last time Houston threw consecutive shutouts was
July 10-11, 1997, at Pittsburgh.

The Mariners, who have not scored in 21 innings, also were shut
out two games in a row Sept. 3-4 at Tampa Bay last season.

Dan Miceli, Brad Lidge and Octavio Dotel worked one inning apiece
to finish the seven-hitter. Dotel got his second save in two nights
and 11th in 13 opportunities this season.

Garcia (3-5) was the hard-luck loser. He pitched eight innings,
giving up three runs on seven hits and three walks, with a
season-high nine strikeouts.

The Astros scored their runs in the third on RBI doubles by Jeff Bagwell and Lance Berkman, and Richard Hidalgo's RBI single.

Mariners center fielder Randy Winn robbed Hidalgo of a home run
in the sixth when he leaped over the fence to snare a long drive.

Seattle manager Bob Melvin was ejected in the seventh by third
base umpire Dale Scott after Scott initially ruled Rich Aurilia's
drive to left was a two-run homer. The other umpires overruled
Scott, and a heated argument ensured.

Melvin wasn't available for comment after the game.

Aurilia was upset that Scott's initial decision was reversed.

"The problem I have with it is the guy is about 100 feet away
and can't see it," he said. "I don't know why, in baseball, that
is the only play you can reverse."

Game notes
LHP Andy Pettitte, on the disabled list with a strained
muscle in his left forearm, threw off the mound in the Astros'
bullpen before the game. But he isn't expected to be activated
Friday, when he is eligible to come off the DL. ... The Astros will
start RHP Pete Munro on Sunday at Milwaukee in place of Pettitte.
After the game, they optioned RHP Brandon Duckworth to Triple-A New
Orleans and purchased the contract of RHP Kirk Bullinger from New
Orleans. Duckworth started and went only one-third of an inning in
a 5-0 loss to Seattle on Monday night. ... The Mariners were shut
out 10 times last season. The team record is 15, shared by three
teams; in 1978, 1983 and 1990. ... Melvin was ejected for the third
time this season. ... Kent is tied with Carlos Lee of the Chicago White Sox for the longest hitting streak in the majors this season.