NEW YORK – The Boston Red Sox made Roger Clemens get rid of his lucky glove, then took away his best chance at becoming the only pitcher to win his 300th game in Yankees pinstripes.
Clemens’ first bid at the milestone victory became a bust Monday when Boston banged him around, winning 8-4 and sending New York to its eighth straight home loss.
Clemens slowly trudged off the mound, his head down the whole way, after Todd Walker’s single chased him in the sixth inning. Now, he’ll have to wait until next Sunday in Detroit — and the following weekend at Wrigley Field, if necessary — in road gray to try to join 20 other pitchers with 300 career victories.
But bad omens surrounded Clemens, even before his first fastball.
The start of the game was delayed 1 hour, 42 minutes by rain, and Clemens’ routine was further disrupted right after his final warmup. That’s when Red Sox manager Grady Little walked out to complain about Clemens’ glove.
The Rocket was wearing a new glove with a shiny “300” patch on the back of it, and plate umpire Bill Miller agreed with Little that it was not within regulations. Clemens had to toss aside that mitt while another one was brought from the dugout.
Clemens (6-3) desperately wanted to win on this afternoon. Yankees manager Joe Torre gave him plenty of opportunities, letting his ace throw 133 pitches — his highest total in more than two years. Still, Clemens remained winless in his last nine starts at Yankee Stadium.
Clemens’ mother, Bess, came from Texas to Yankee Stadium for the first time since her son clinched the 1999 World Series. She suffers from emphysema and has had a recent bout with pneumonia, and wore a breathing tube around her face.
His kids sat in the front row of the loge level, posting “K” cards to keep track of their dad’s strikeouts, and Clemens fanned nine to raise his lifetime total to 3,985.
Former Red Sox teammates Al Nipper, Rich Gedman, Bruce Hurst and Marty Barrett were among the sellout crowd of 55,093 on Memorial Day. So was former New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, just a few days after his wedding.
Yankees owner George Steinbrenner also was present, and he couldn’t have been happy as his team lost its season-high fifth in a row.
Nomar Garciaparra extended his hitting streak to 26 games and Walker drove in three runs as Boston increased its AL East lead over the Yankees to 2 1/2 games. Tim Wakefield (5-2) got the win.
Walker’s two-out, two-run single chased Clemens after 5 2-3 innings, and he gave up 10 hits and eight runs. All of the Yankees infielders gathered around Clemens and gave him pats of encouragement as Torre summoned reliever Antonio Osuna.
Nolan Ryan was the last pitcher to win 300, reaching the mark in 1990 on his second try. Tom Seaver was the only one to earn No. 300 at Yankee Stadium, in 1985 for the Chicago White Sox, and Phil Niekro made it to the milestone later that season for the Yankees at Toronto.
Clemens earned his 299th victory last Wednesday night at Fenway Park, where he played from 1984-96 for the Red Sox. Getting No. 300 against his former team, however, was not to be.
Clemens rubbed his sweat on the Babe Ruth monument for luck, as usual, after getting ready in the bullpen and retired the Red Sox in order in the opening inning on 11 pitches.
But Manny Ramirez led off the second with a loud double, and Clemens struggled the rest of the way. Shea Hillenbrand’s RBI single made it 1-0, and Boston added two runs in the third.
Trot Nixon drew a bases-loaded walk on a close 3-2 pitch, and Clemens threw up his arms in disbelief when Miller called it a ball. Kevin Millar’s sacrifice fly made it 3-0.
Walker’s RBI grounder and a wild pitch put the Red Sox ahead 5-0 in the fourth. After the Yankees rallied for three runs in the fourth, Boston broke it open with three more in the sixth.
Notes:@ Clemens issued a bases-loaded walk for only the 15th time in his career. … Wakefield, Garciaparra and Nixon are the lone Red Sox players remaining from when Clemens pitched for Boston. … Clemens is 299-154 lifetime. … The eight runs off Clemens were the most he’s allowed since the 2002 opener.