Clemens Rockets Past 4,000 And Straight To 300

Roger Clemens' wait is finally over. On the same night, in front of a sellout crowd at Yankee Stadium, The Rocket finally picked up his 300th career victory, as well as his 4,000th career strikeout, as the Yankees defeated the St. Louis Cardinals by a final score of 5-2.

It took Roger Clemens four attempts to reach the milestone in wins, after defeating the Boston Red Sox way back on May 21. Since then, Clemens failed to grab a win against Boston again, Detroit and the Chicago Cubs.

But Friday, things would be different. Clemens (7-4) was untouchable through the first inning, striking out Miguel Cairo, J. D. Drew and Albert Pujols swinging, in order. The whiffs brought him to 3,999 career strikeouts, one shy of joining Nolan Ryan and Steve Carlton as the only men to ever strike out 4,000 batters in their careers.

In the second inning, after Jim Edmonds connected in a homerun and Scott Rolen hit a hard double, Clemens settled back into his groove. He fanned Edgar Renteria – swinging – on a full count to notch the historical strikeout. The Yankee Stadium crowd erupted in cheers for the Rocket, who took a brief moment to acknowledge them and got right back to business. Clemens struck out the next batter, Tino Martinez, who was making his return to Yankee Stadium, on three pitches. Then he got Mike Matheny swinging to end the inning.

Nothing was going to stop Clemens and the Yankees on Friday. In the first inning, Jorge Posada lifted an RBI double to left field that scored Derek Jeter. In the second inning, Hideki Matsui untied the score with a towering solo homerun to right field. In the fourth inning, after the Cards tied it on a Tino Martinez sacrifice fly, Ruben Sierra hit a low fastball from Jason Simontacchi to put the Yankees up again, this time for good.

Clemens pitched into the seventh inning, finally giving way to Chris Hammond with two outs. The Rocket allowed just two runs on six hits and a pair of walks while striking out ten batters, to grab the victory.

Hammond escaped the seventh inning without allowing a run, letting everyone in the stadium let out a collective sigh of relief. But there was still just a tenuous one-run difference between the two teams, and the Cardinals can hit.

Raul Mondesi put everyone's fears to rest with a two-run laser beam of a homerun in the bottom of the seventh.

Antonio Osuna pitched a perfect eighth inning, and then Mariano Rivera came into to slam the door on St. Louis in the ninth and pick up his eighth save.

Rivera struck out Orlando Palmeiro looking before getting Kerry Robinson to ground out to the mound, and finally inducing Miguel Cairo to ground out to first. Jason Giambi stepped on the bag to record the final out of Clemens' emotional win.

Simontacchi (4-4) took the loss for St. Louis, allowing five runs on eight hits and two walks over six innings of work. The right-hander also struck out five batters.

After the game, Clemens celebrated on the field with his teammates and family while the Yankee Stadium crowd cheered him on.

Now with that load off of their shoulders, the Yankees and Clemens can get back to business, and try to build on their latest two-game winning streak. Game two of their series with the Cardinals is on Saturday at 3:05 pm. Matt Morris (7-3, 3.06) will take the hill for St. Louis, and Andy Pettitte (5-6, 5.33) gets the start for the Bombers.

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