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Rocket sixth pitcher to go 16-1 since 1900

NEW YORK (AP) -- For the first time in 32 years, a major league
pitcher has a record of 16-1.

Roger Clemens improved upon the best season of his career,
record-wise, by allowing only four hits in seven innings to lead
the New York Yankees past the Tampa Bay Devil Rays 10-3 Wednesday night.

Improving to 10-0 at Yankee Stadium and 7-0 in night games,
Clemens had just one difficult inning in winning his 12th
consecutive decision.

He is only the sixth major leaguer since 1900 to start 16-1, the
first since Dave McNally did it for the Baltimore Orioles in 1969 -- a fact which came as news to the 39-year-old.

"I don't know the history behind it, and I don't think it
matters unless we get to where we want to be -- staying in first
place and reaching our goals," he said. "It makes all the work I
do seem to pay off."

Clemens struck out the leadoff hitter five times and finished
with eight strikeouts as the Yankees increased their AL East lead
over Boston to five games -- matching their largest of the season.

Clemens is just the sixth pitcher in modern major league history to post a record of 16-1. The others are McNally, Rube Marquard (1912), Guy Bush (1929), Don Newcombe (1955) and ElRoy Face (1959).

"He certainly has been leading this staff all year. He hasn't had a bad start yet," Yankees manager Joe Torre said.

Clay Bellinger hit a three-run homer and a solo shot. Derek
Jeter added a pair of doubles and a home run as the Yankees scored
twice in the first, once in the second and twice in the third
against Paul Wilson (5-8) to give Clemens a comfortable lead.

Clemens did not allow a hit until the fifth inning -- the one
frame when he encountered some trouble. Tampa Bay sent eight
batters to the plate and scored twice on a bases-loaded single by
Chris Gomez before Clemens retired Brent Abernathy on a grounder to
shortstop to leave the bases full.

Clemens then retired the side in order in the sixth and seventh, and Torre elected to turn the ball over to reliever Mark Wohlers after the Yankees scored five runs in the
seventh for a 10-2 lead.

Clemens admitted that he realized he was working on a no-hitter
when the fifth inning began.

"I knew it, but I really didn't think about it. I've taken them into the eighth and ninth inning before, and that's when it would have been something to be careful with," Clemens said.

Jeter and Paul O'Neill had back-to-back doubles in the first,
each of them stretching long singles into doubles purely through
hustle. Jorge Posada drove in New York's second run with a
sacrifice fly, then brought home another run in the third with an
RBI double.

Bellinger's three-run homer in the seventh knocked out Wilson,
who allowed seven hits, seven earned runs and seven walks.

"It was a good ballgame until that three-run homer. That killed me," Wilson said. "At 5-2 we had a chance; 8-2 we didn't."

It was the first multihomer game of Bellinger's major-league
career. Jeter followed with a solo homer, his 15th, off Bobby

Game notes
The crowd let out a collective groan when the official
scorer awarded Toby Hall a base hit with one out in the fifth,
ending Clemens' chance for a no-hitter. Hall hit a slow roller
toward third that Bellinger unsuccessfully tried to field with his
bare hand. Four batters later, Gomez ripped a clean single to
center. ... Clemens is 25-3 since coming off the DL in July 2000.
... Torre described the eventual return of Orlando Hernandez to the
rotation as crucial. "Our signature is pitching, and if he comes
back and is able to be himself it takes pressure off the other
three guys (Clemens, Mike Mussina, Andy Pettitte)." Hernandez, out
since May 26 because of toe surgery, will make a rehab start
Thursday. "He hasn't been competitive all year, but he has a lot
left in the tank arm-wise," Torre said. ... Wilson threw a
season-high 131 pitches. ... Posada struck out twice in the seventh
as the Yankees sent 10 batters to the plate. ... New York, 10-2
against the Devil Rays, is a combined 21-4 against Baltimore and
Tampa Bay, the bottom two teams in the AL East.