Posted by Kevin Durso
One month ago, Cliff Lee turned in an eight-inning gem where he allowed one run, he took a no-decision, as the Phillies and Braves were locked at one. That one run came courtesy of Lee himself, as he took Tommy Hanson deep. The only disappointing part of that game was that the Phillies weren’t on the right end of the score at the end of the day. Tonight, Lee turned in a repeat performance, and it all ended for the better for the Phillies.
In the first, the Phillies got back-to-back base hits to lead off the game, before a weird double play by Chase Utley changed the inning, and held the Phillies off the board. Cliff Lee had to work out of his own jam in the first. A single by Dee Gordon put the Dodgers’ speedster on base, and he stole second. A bunt by Jamey Carroll proved disastrous as Ryan Howard couldn’t get the ball to a covering Lee in time. Lee made a nice bare-handed pick to keep the ball from getting away, and hold the runner at third. That would prove big, as Lee followed with strikeouts of Andre Ethier and Matt Kemp, before getting Aaron Miles to pop out to first to end the inning.
The Phillies would get on the board in the third, as Jimmy Rollins blooped a double into shallow right, scoring Wilson Valdez.
After allowing those first two hits, Lee settled in to work another stellar game. He would make another fine defensive play in the third, just beating Dee Gordon to the bag on a grounder to first. He allowed just two hits after the first, and struck out ten on the night.
Lee wasn’t just doing things well on the mound. Whenever Lee steps to the plate, he is a legitimate threat to get something done. Phillies’ fans had already seen Lee take Tommy Hanson deep earlier in the season. Tonight, he did it again. This time, it was Ted Lilly who was victim of a Lee blast. Lee drilled a 2-0 pitch into the bleachers in right in the seventh, padding his own lead. It was his second home run on the season.
Lee wasn’t done on the mound. With his solo shot giving him some breathing room, Lee managed to work around some tough at-bats, and his first two walks of the game, to throw eight scoreless innings. Lee finished with 123 pitches, 87 of them strikes, including 30 foul balls. Factor in his ten punchouts and the Phillies couldn’t have asked for anything more from Lee.
Ryan Madson managed to hold of the Dodgers' charge for the second straight night. Casey Blake singled home a run with two outs in the ninth, but Rod Barajas struck out to end the game, as the Phillies beat the Dodgers, 2-1.
There simply aren’t enough words to describe Cliff Lee, but we’ll try in a bit. First off, there were actually other players involved in the Phillies’ latest win. Jimmy Rollins was the only Phillie with a multi-hit game, going 2-for-3. It also seems that if Hunter Pence gets a hit, the Phillies win. Since joining the Phillies, Pence’s only hitless game was the Phillies’ lone loss of the road trip to the Giants. He was 1-for-4.
But, the real story was Cliff Lee. After dealing a shutout against the Giants, he nearly managed to repeat the task again. And while he didn't get a chance to complete his 6th shutout of the season, he still fired an absolute beauty tonight. Considering the game started with quite a jam for Lee, featured three excellent shows of defensive skill, and his usual dominant form of pitching, you couldn’t have asked for a better start. His home run was simply icing on the cake. Lee has been known as a dangerous threat at the plate, and while his first home run wasn’t a shock, we simply don’t see pitchers bring their all at the plate like Lee does.
Once again, for the fourth straight series, the Phillies have a chance to sweep. They also are approaching a historic road trip. In franchise history, the Phillies’ best record on a road trip of 10 games or more is 9-2. A win tomorrow would give them a 9-1 road trip.
The Phillies go for the sweep of the Dodgers tomorrow afternoon. Vance Worley gets the start against Chad Billingsley.