DENVER (AP) - Roger Clemens couldn't hold on for his 350th win and the Colorado Rockies completed a three-game sweep of the New York Yankees with a 4-3 victory Thursday.
Matt Holliday's RBI single with one out in the fifth broke a 2-2 tie and chased the Rocket, who failed to hold a 2-0 lead and allowed four earned runs and seven hits with one walk and six strikeouts.
Rodrigo Lopez (4-0) survived Hideki Matsui's 428-foot, two-run home run into the rock pile in center field and lasted 5 2-3 innings against the Yankees, who managed to score just five runs in three games at Coors Field in falling 101/2 games behind Boston in the AL East.
The last time the Bronx Bombers visited Blake Street, in 2002, they set a stadium record by scoring 41 times in a three-game slugfest at Denver's downtown ballpark. Since then, the humidor has taken full effect as has Colorado's retooled pitching staff.
The Rockies, a major league-best 20-7 since May 22, cooled off the surging Yankees, who had won 14 of 17 coming into Coors Field. They outscored New York 13-5 in the series, compared to their 41-29 deficit in the 2002 set.
Clemens (1-2) was trying to become the first major leaguer to win 350 games since Warren Spahn did it for Milwaukee on Sept. 29, 1963, when Yankees manager Joe Torre was the Braves' catcher and Clemens had just celebrated his first birthday.
"That's rarified air there," said Torre, adding he never could have envisioned the Rocket going for his 350th win back on Sept. 13, 2003, when Clemens joined the 300-win club with a 5-2 victory over St. Louis.
"No. How's that? I can't give you a better answer than that -- on either one of our cases, him or me at that point," Torre said. "But I'm happy to be here. You know, it just feels good to have both he and Andy (Pettitte) back."
Pettitte and Clemens played in Houston for the last few seasons and when Pettitte rejoined the Yankees in the offseason, it was just a matter of time before Clemens joined him, signing on for $18 million to pitch the final four months of the season.
This was his third start since making three minor league tuneups, and he lost for the second straight time. He gave up solo homers to Garrett Atkins, his eighth, and Troy Tulowitzki, his fourth, to erase the Yankees' 2-0 lead in the second. Tulowitzki's shot to left-center traveled an estimated 445 feet.
Matsui's two-run homer in the top of the inning matched the Yankees' scoring output from their first two games at Coors Field.
Clemens helped himself out with a single up the middle in the fifth, putting two runners on with one out, but Johnny Damon, playing center field to test his strained abdominal muscle and see if he can avoid a trip to the disabled list, lined into an inning-ending double play.
In the bottom half, Kaz Matsui singled, stole second and scored on Holliday's single to center field that chased Clemens. Atkins added a sacrifice fly off Scott Proctor to make it 4-2.
Derek Jeter's sixth-inning double extended his hitting streak to 15 games, but he committed a base-running blunder for the second time this series, getting thrown out on a grounder to the shortstop, which proved costly when the Yankees failed to score that inning.
The Yankees put runners on the corners but right-hander Jorge Julio came in and struck out Matsui to end the sixth. Matsui had been 3-for-7 with two homers in his career off Julio.
Pinch-hitter Melky Cabrera's sacrifice fly off Julio cut the Rockies' lead to 4-3 in the seventh before Manny Corpas threw a scoreless eighth and Brian Fuentes pitched a perfect ninth for his 20th save in 22 chances.
Notes: Clemens has struck out at least one batter in 200 consecutive starts, the third-longest streak in the majors behind Pedro Martinez's 293 and Javier Vasquez's 236, according to Elias Sports Bureau. ... Barring any changes, Clemens will get another shot at win No. 350 in Baltimore next week.
(Copyright 2007. The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)