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Jays Honor Carter, Beat Orioles

Ed Sprague bailed out Roger Clemens.

Sprague hit a three-run homer and Clemens won his seventh game despite pitching with a strained groin as the Toronto Blue Jays beat the Baltimore Orioles 7-4 on Sunday night.

"I was real appreciative that the guys picked me up," said Clemens (7-6), who allowed four runs on six hits and five walks in 5 1-3 innings. "It was a situation where I tried to go as long as I could. I didn't want to jeopardize the game because the guys were swinging the bats well."

Clemens took himself out of a game April 7 because of a strained right groin, and also missed his next start.

"I don't expect it to be a problem for my next start," he said. "It's definitely a concern. I have to continue to monitor that area.

Randy Myers pitched the ninth for his 18th save, and second straight against his former team.

Sprague homered off Pete Smith (0-1) in the fifth to give the Blue Jays a 6-4 lead. Smith, acquired from San Diego on Tuesday for minor league pitcher Eric Estes, allowed six runs on 10 hits and three walks in 4 2-3 innings.

"At least he did a lot better than a lot of other guys we've had out there," Orioles manager Ray Miller said.

Toronto scored four runs in the fifth. Jose Canseco and Carlos Delgado drew consecutive walks, Mike Stanley flied out to move Canseco to third, Darrin Fletcher singled in a run, and Sprague followed with his sixth homer.

"I hit it good and the bat just snapped in half," Sprague said. "Roger wasn't at the top of his game, but he still made the pitches when he had to. That's why he's won four Cy Young awards."

Stanley added an RBI single in the sixth.

The Orioles took a 2-0 lead in the second on Cal Ripken's RBI single and Jeff Reboulet's sacrifice. Canseco made it 2-1 in the third with his 20th home run, a 421-foot shot to center field.

After Clemens struck out Reboulet and Jesus Tavarez with the bases loaded in the fourth, Toronto's Craig Grebeck tied it in the bottom of the inning with an RBI double. B.J. Surhoff had a two-run single in the fifth to give Baltimore a 4-2 lead.

Notes: Former Toronto star Joe Carter was honored before the game. The Orioles outfielder was given a framed jersey and a painting depicting his series-ending homer the 1993 World Series. ... Clemens was 11-2 last year after 14 starts. ... Canseco stole his 19th base in the sixth. ... Baltimore pitcher Doug Drabek left Saturday's game in the third inning because of a strained muscle on the right side of his chest. He is expected to miss his next turn in the rotation. ... Orioles outfielder Brady Anderson missed his second straight start because of a strained right thigh muscle.

©1998 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed

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