Baseball: Clemens starting to repay Blue Jays

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The Independent Online
It is beginning to look as if 34-year-old Roger Clemens is worth the huge free agent contract he signed to join the Toronto Blue Jays in the off-season.

Clemens fired his second complete game of the young season to lead Toronto to a 3-1 win over the Detroit Tigers and raise his record to 5-0 on Monday.

Clemens, who signed a three-year, $24.75m (pounds 15.5m) contract to leave Boston after 13 years as the ace of the Red Sox staff, allowed one run and five hits. He did not issue a walk and struck out 10 to lower his league-leading ERA to 1.58 with the 103rd complete game of his career.

Carlos Garcia stroked a two-run double in the fifth inning to give Clemens all the support he needed. "I'm used to [tight games], in Boston I had a ton of nailbiters," Clemens said. "I'm not worried about my career wins and losses, I'm worried about the play-offs and the World Series."

The Tigers pushed across their only run in the second on Melvin Nieves' RBI triple. The Jays added an insurance run in the eighth when Otis Nixon stole third and scored on Joe Carter's sacrifice fly.

Omar Olivares (1-2) gave up three runs and seven hits over seven and one third innings to take the loss. The Tigers have scored a total of just six runs for Olivares in his last four starts.

In Los Angeles, Billy Ashley broke a sixth-inning tie with a two-run homer and Hideo Nomo took a four-hitter into the ninth as the Los Angeles Dodgers beat the Cincinnati Reds. Nomo (4-2) allowed six hits in eight- plus innings, improving to 4-0 against the Reds. He struck out six and walked none. Cincinnati's run came on Willie Greene's RBI single in the fifth. Mark Guthrie got the first out of the ninth, and Todd Worrell retired Terry Pendleton and Jeff Branson for his ninth save.

With the score 1-1 in the sixth, Greene booted Todd Zeile's lead-off grounder to third for an error and Ashley hit his first homer of the season. The drive came off Hector Carrasco (1-1), who relieved Kent Mercker after five innings.

In Boston, Kevin Appier pitched a five-hitter and Jay Bell homered and drove in two runs as the Kansas Royals blanked the Red Sox 2-0. Appier (4-1) walked one and struck out seven for his league-leading third complete game of the season and 10th career shut-out. He allowed only one runner past first base. "Appier right now is better than he's ever been," said the Kansas City manager, Bob Boone.

Chris Hammond (1-1) pitched eight innings, allowing two runs and seven hits with three walks and nine strikeouts.

In Baltimore, Tim Salmon homered and drove in four and Eddie Murray highlighted a four-run first with a two-run single as the Anaheim Angels beat the Orioles 7-2.