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Clemens Blanks Mariners

Comfortable and confident, Roger Clemens was in command.

Clemens, pitching to catcher Joe Girardi for the first time in 2 1/2 months, looked every bit the ace of the New York Yankees' staff with eight sharp innings Friday night in an 8-0 victory over Seattle.

"This is the Roger Clemens that won those Cy Young Awards," manager Joe Torre said. "He was terrific. Tonight, he was dominant."

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  • Clemens (12-6) escaped a bases-loaded jam in the first inning and then settled into a groove. He allowed four singles and struck out nine in shutting down the team that leads the majors in home runs.

    "I don't really rate them, I'm just glad we won," Clemens said. "I just felt good. Mentally, I think I was a little sharper."

    The Yankees won the opening game of a series for the 13th straight time. The AL East leaders also stopped the Mariners' three-game winning string.

    All season, the Yankees have waited for a sign Clemens would regain the form that won him five Cy Young Awards. The fans have wanted the same thing and, after light booing when Clemens was introduced, the crowd of 51,985 spent the whole night cheering for him.

    Clemens clicked with Girardi. The veteran catcher had not started any of Clemens' games since June 6, and only five of 23 overall.

    Before the game, Torre said he just decided to try Girardi. After it ended, Torre said Girardi will catch Clemens' next start, too.

    "I liked what I saw," Torre said. "I thought he was good with Joey."

    The switch from Jorge Posada to Girardi worked. Clemens did not seem to shake off Girardi, popping lively fastballs into his mitt.

    "He's been back there enouh," Clemens said. "He's caught a lot of my 'pens."

    Said Girardi: "We know that the fun time of the year is approaching soon, and we know we need him."

    Clemens helped himself in the first inning by going to his knees to barehand a tapper by Alex Rodriguez and throw out Brian Hunter at the plate.

    After that inning, the Mariners moved only one runner past first base against Clemens, whose 4.45 ERA is his lowest since June 1.

    Clemens' 245th win matched Dennis Martinez for 42nd place on the career list.

    "He threw the ball pretty well," Rodriguez said. "He had a lot of strong innings. But we're not swinging the bats very well right now."

    Jeff Nelson pitched a scoreless ninth to complete New York's 10th shutout, tied with Cincinnati for most in the majors.

    Rookie Gil Meche (4-4) lasted 3 1-3 innings, giving up six runs, six hits and four walks.

    Bernie Williams had an RBI groundout in the first inning and Derek Jeter hit a two-run single in the second. Jeter set a career high with 86 RBIs, two more than last year's total.

    The Yankees scored four times in the fourth, with Jeter's third single of the night chasing the 20-year-old Meche.

    Reliever Robert Ramsay made his major league debut by walking Paul O'Neill. After bouncing a bases-loaded wild pitch to the backstop, Ramsay gave up a two-run single by Chili Davis that made it 7-0.

    Ramsay was promoted from Triple-A Tacoma after pitcher Jeff Fassero was traded to Texas earlier in the day for a minor leaguer to be named.

    Frankie Rodriguez pitched two innings for the Mariners without incident. Earlier this month in Seattle, he hit Chuck Knoblauch with a pitch and touched off a bench-clearing brawl that got him a seven-game suspension.


  • David Cone, struggling since his perfect game last month and hit hard Tuesday at Texas, will not make his scheduled start Monday night against Oakland. Torre wants to give him extra rest.
  • Clemens is 20-10 against Seattle.
  • A cloud of smoke wafted over the right-field facade in thfirst inning. A late-model car caught fire beneath the elevated subway tracks, within 50 feet of the ballpark, and two fire engines were called. There were no injuries.
  • Seattle is close to signing Mike Blowers to a Triple-A contract. The former Mariners and Yankees third baseman was cut in Japan this summer. He could join Seattle in September.
  • Yankees bench coach Don Zimmer was absent because of an old heart ailment that flared up. Zimmer, 68, was hospitalized Thursday night with the problem, which the team described as "minor." It was not known when he would rejoin the club.
  • Mariners CF Ken Griffey Jr. made a leaping catch at the top of the wall on Ricky Ledee's drive.
  • Williams hit an RBI single to the left-field fence in the eighth. He would've had a double, but he missed first base and backtracked.

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