Chicago Roger Clemens and his traveling road show are going back to where it started, still searching for that elusive 300th victory.
The Rocket was outpitched by Kerry Wood, then had to watch as his bullpen blew his lead with its very first pitch and delayed his entry into one of baseball's most exclusive fraternities.
Clemens has been stuck on 299 career victories for three starts now, the pressure building with each one.
"I apologized to Roger. Nobody wants to go in and screw up," said Juan Acevedo, whose surrendered the three-run homer to substitute Eric Karros that sealed the Chicago Cubs' 5-2 victory over the New York Yankees Saturday.
Shortly after Clemens left the game, the Yankees announced he had an upper respiratory infection and wouldn't be speaking with the media after the game.
"I really don't think it affected my pitching," Clemens said on a quote sheet that was distributed to the nearly 500 media members assembled for the game.
Karros was only in the game after a scary collision in the fourth inning sent Cubs first baseman Hee Seop Choi to the hospital.
A group of about 40 family members and friends have traipsed around the country the past two weeks, hoping to see him become the 21st pitcher to win 300 games.
Now they have to pack their bags once more.
Clemens (6-4) will face St. Louis at Yankee Stadium Friday night, trying to become the first pitcher since Nolan Ryan in 1990 to reach 300.
Clemens lost to Boston in his first bid, then blew a six-run lead at Detroit.
"All it means is we have to answer a bunch more questions," Derek Jeter said. "I think he's just putting it off until we get to New York."
If any setting was ever perfect for Clemens to get the milestone victory, Saturday was it. He'd never pitched at Wrigley Field, spending the 1990 All-Star game on the bench.
And this weekend, the Yankees are visiting the ballpark for the first time since the 1938 World Series, with the atmosphere as electric as any playoff series.
"The stadium was out of control," Wood said. "The fans were great. Sometimes in the dugout you couldn't even hear yourself think. It was awesome to be a part of."
Topping it all off was the matchup: the Rocket vs. Kid K.
Like Clemens, Wood is a tall Texan with a sizzling fastball, and he was drawing comparisons to the Rocket even before he stepped on a big-league mound.
In just his fifth start, he matched Clemens' 20-strikeout record, throwing a one-hitter against the Houston Astros.
And Wood (5-4) brought that same nasty stuff with him Saturday, getting his 50th career victory and first win since April 29. He gave up just one run and three hits in 72Â¼3 innings and struck out 11.
Wood's idol growing up was another Texan -- Ryan, whose No. 34 he wears -- but it was clear how much this game meant to him. And it took on even more meaning when Choi got hurt in the fourth inning.
The Cubs had a shift on, and Jason Giambi hit a high popup toward third base. With third baseman Lenny Harris all the way over near second, Choi and Wood came in to grab the ball about 20 feet from home plate.
The next thing he knew, the two were colliding. Wood's glove hit Choi in the face, knocking him backward. And with nothing to break his fall, the 6-5, 240-pound rookie slammed into the hard dirt of the basepath.
Choi lay motionless for more than 10 minutes trainers and doctors rushed to his aid and the worried Cubs gathered around him. Wood was particularly upset, and reliever Mike Remlinger came out to comfort him.
"I just tried to tell him, if he needed a reason or something to focus on, to keep himself going, make sure he finished the job for Hee Seop," Remlinger said.
Reds 9, Blue Jays 8
Cincinnati -- Jason LaRue tied it with a three-run homer, and then Sean Casey hit an RBI single as Cincinnati rallied in the ninth inning. Cincinnati trailed 8-5 going into the ninth, but came back against Cliff Politte (1-4). Of the Reds' 30 wins this season, 16 have come in their last at-bats. And this was their eighth walkoff win -- eight different players have gotten those winning RBIs. Chris Reitsma (5-2) earned the victory. Adam Dunn hit his major league-leading 20th home run.
Angels 9, Marlins 2
Miami -- Garret Anderson homered for the sixth time in five games, and Aaron Sele won his second consecutive start, carrying Anaheim past Florida. Anderson, who had three home runs against Montreal Wednesday, hit a three-run shot in the fourth inning off Tommy Phelps. It was Anderson's 13th home run of the year.
Giants 7, Tigers 5
San Francisco -- Barry Bonds hit one of San Francisco's four home runs, and Jason Schmidt pitched seven strong innings as the Giants defeated Detroit. Andres Galarraga, Jose Cruz Jr. and Marquis Grissom also homered for the Giants, who improved to 8-3 on their season-long 12-game homestand.
Red Sox 11, Brewers 10
Milwaukee -- Trot Nixon and Jason Varitek hit consecutive homers off Mike DeJean in the ninth inning, and Boston rallied to beat Milwaukee. Pinch-hitter Kevin Millar had a grand slam for the Red Sox, who lost starter Casey Fossum to a sore shoulder after one inning but came back from a pair of six-run deficits.
Expos 5, Rangers 4
San Juan, Puerto Rico -- Brad Wilkerson took advantage of the short fences at Hiram Bithorn Stadium to homer twice as Montreal dealt Texas its eighth straight loss. Jose Vidro also homered for Montreal, a legitimate shot off the advertisements beyond the right-field bleachers, as the Expos won their third straight.
Astros 5, Devil Rays 4
Houston -- Jeff Kent and Richard Hidalgo hit solo home runs in the eighth inning, rallying Houston past Tampa Bay for its sixth straight victory. The Devil Rays lost their third in a row. Kent tied it with his 10th home run, connecting with one out off Al Levine (2-3). Hidalgo hit his eighth homer with two outs off Levine.
D'backs 5, Indians 3
Phoenix -- Shea Hillenbrand hit a two-run triple in the fifth inning, rallying Arizona past Cleveland and former teammate Brian Anderson. Junior Spivey gave the Diamondbacks, who trailed 3-0, a 5-3 lead with an RBI double off Terry Mulholland in the seventh. Alex Cintron, who started two rallies with leadoff singles, and Robby Hammock had sacrifice flies.
Orioles 8, Cardinals 1
St. Louis -- Deivi Cruz homered twice, and Sidney Ponson pitched his second complete game in three starts, leading Baltimore past St. Louis. Melvin Mora and Jeff Conine also homered for Baltimore, which snapped a four-game skid and ended the Cardinals' five-game winning streak.
White Sox 4, Dodgers 1
Los Angeles -- Bartolo Colon pitched a four-hitter, and Frank Thomas and Joe Crede hit home runs as Chicago defeated Los Angeles. Colon (6-5) retired 19 straight batters before Adrian Beltre reached on left fielder Carlos Lee's error with two out in the eighth.
Twins 6, Padres 2
San Diego -- Jacque Jones hit two home runs, including the 20th of his career to lead off a game, as Minnesota beat San Diego. Jones, who holds the team record for leadoff homers, hit his fourth of the season off Carlton Loewer.