Astros owner Drayton McLane and general manager Tim Purpura met with Roger Clemens' representatives, Randy and Alan Hendricks, on Tuesday afternoon to present the parameters of their offer to the future Hall of Famer.
Neither side would publicly confirm the actual amount of the offer, but a person close to the negotiations has said the Astros would start the negotiations at no less than a pro-rated amount of the record $18 million Clemens earned last year.
"We put forth a very strong number," Purpura said. "It's always hard to know, it's impossible to know what numbers are out there."
McLane was optimistic.
"For the first sit-down discussion, I thought they were extremely positive and upbeat," McLane said via phone from his Houston apartment. "I think there's a great interest, and the potential is very positive. The Hendricks are good negotiators. I think with all that is at stake on one of the best pitchers in the history of baseball, we're making progress.
"It was a competitive offer for someone that has really helped make a huge contribution to the Houston Astros in 2004 and 2005. We're anxious for Roger to really give us the lift this year that he did last year. I think it's a competitive offer that they seemed pleased with. They certainly didn't accept it, but they seemed pleased with it."
REPLAY: Leading the Brewers 1-0 Tuesday, the Astros added four runs in the second inning to take a 5-0 lead. Houston held on for an 8-5 win.
Brad Ausmus loaded the bases with another single to right.
Adam Everett followed with a ground-rule double to center field, settling for two RBIs after the ball bounced off the warning track and out of play. Fernando Nieve drove in Ausmus with a bloop single to center. One out later, Willy Taveras drove in the fourth run of the inning with a fielder's choice grounder to second.
--Since the 2003 season, the Cardinals and the Astros are 26-26 against each other in the regular season. Including the last two National League Championship Series between the clubs, the Astros have a 33-32 advantage over the Cardinals.
--RHP Roy Oswalt (4-1, 2.76 ERA) will face the Cardinals for the first time since he clinched the Astros' World Series berth with seven innings of one-run ball in Game 6 of the National League Championship Series last October at old Busch Stadium. Oswalt was the 2005 NLCS MVP after holding the Cardinals to two runs over 14 innings while going 2-0.
--3B Morgan Ensberg had the day off Tuesday. --3B Mike Lamb made his second start of the season and went 3-for-5 with three runs.
--SS Adam Everett tied his career high with four RBIs on Tuesday in a game when the entire bottom of the order performed well. "Whenever you get production like that from the bottom of the order, it's always nice," Everett said after going 2-for-4. "Obviously it showed tonight. We put up eight runs. That's always good."
--By splitting the two-game set at Miller Park, the Astros finished the five-game trip through Cincinnati and Milwaukee 2-3.
--RHP Brad Lidge needed only 12 pitches to collect his ninth save and the first save of the season in which he retired the side in order. "I feel great," Lidge said. "I've felt great. You always go through parts of the season that aren't as good as others. For anyone that said there was something wrong with me because of that, that's too bad. I felt good tonight because I had an efficient outing and I threw the ball over the plate. That's what I need to do."
--Rookie RHP Fernando Nieve, who gave up three home runs, minimized the damage and earned his first major league victory Tuesday. He held the Brewers to four runs on six hits with seven strikeouts while throwing a career-high seven innings.