Roger Clemens passed another pitching milestone Wednesday night, moving into 35th place on the all-time victory list with the 255th win of his career.
Few of them have been easier.
"The guys scored early and you want to make it hold up," Clemens said, after limiting the Tigers to six hits and striking out 11 over eight innings. "I was sharp tonight. When you're staked to a lead like that, you've got to get strike one."
And in Clemens' case, strike two and strike three. He walked none.
It was also his fourth straight victory since returning from the disabled list.
"There's a big difference when you have your health," said Clemens, who was on the DL from June 15 until July 1 with a strained right groin. "I've pitched and won when I've been hurt but there's a difference between hurting and being hurt. Sometimes, you hurt the club. It feels good to be healthy."
Clemens (8-6) has pitched seven or more innings in each of the starts since he returned and seems to be getting progressively stronger.
"He was good," manager Joe Torre said. "He looked very confident to me. His splitter was terrific. I was very content watching. It was nice to get a lead and we know Roger knew what to do with it."
Paul O'Neill/A>'s two-run homer in the first inning against Hideo Nomo (3-9) put New York in front early. Then Derek Jeter's bases-loaded triple with two outs in the second made it 5-0.
Clemens felt a little sorry for Nomo in that situation.
"With the bases loaded and Derek up, you've got problems," he said.
Jeter said he knew what to expect.
"Nomo keeps you off-balance, but at 3-1 with the bases loaded, he has to throw a strike," he said.
Jeter hit it in the gap and with the big lead, Clemens settled in.
"He threw the ball well," Tigers manager Phil Garner said. "But he had a big lead early and he just kind of cruised after that. We didn't do anything with him."
After Clemens gave up Bobby Higginson's 19th homer of the season in the fourth, the Yankees increased the lead with three more runs against reliever Nelson Cruz, two of them on David Justice's 25th home run of the season. It was his fourth for New York.
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