CHICAGO -- Although a starting pitcher typically thinks more about the opponent's lineup than the quality of the pitcher his team will face, it's likely both Greg Maddux and Roger Clemens knew they had to bring their "A" games to Wrigley Field on Wednesday night.
It's likely the sellout crowd of 40,344 hoped for and expected a pitchers' duel, and the two future Hall of Famers delivered. Clemens, buoyed by adequate run support, prevailed as the Houston Astros topped the Chicago Cubs, 4-2, to even the series at one game apiece.
Clemens was very much Rocket-like during his 85-pitch outing, throwing six shutout frames while walking one and striking out five. He scattered three hits, never allowing more than one in a single inning.
Craig Biggio's leadoff homer stood as the only scoring by either club for five innings. That changed in the sixth, when the Astros plated two runs off Maddux, whose losing streak extended to six.
Earlier, the inning had the makings of a small disaster.
Mike Lamb knocked an infield hit toward second to begin the frame, and he caught a break after he ran on Maddux's pitch-out. The ball reached shortstop Ronny Cedeno in plenty of time, but instead of moving toward Lamb on the play, Cedeno moved his glove in the opposite direction after receiving a decent throw from Michael Barrett.
Lamb was called safe, but the lucky breaks ended on the next play when Chris Burke bunted toward Maddux, who made a perfect throw to third baseman Aramis Ramirez to erase the lead runner.
Lance Berkman popped to Derrek Lee a few feet in front of the plate for the second out, but Aubrey Huff singled to center, moving Burke to third. Up came Preston Wilson, who commemorated his 32nd birthday with a double to the gap in right-center, scoring both runners and putting the Astros ahead, 3-0.
The Cubs narrowed the gap in the eighth when Todd Walker knocked a two-run homer off Trever Miller. The Astros countered with a run in the ninth on a squeeze play -- with Wilson on third, Adam Everett sent a perfect bunt toward third. Wilson scored easily.
Alyson Footer is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.