Lee Struggles in Phillies’ Loss to Braves

Screen shot 2011-04-08 at 10.27.05 PM Source: Philly.com/sports

The Phillies offense gave Cliff Lee a seemingly comfortable three-run lead after two innings at the plate tonight at Turner Field. However, the Braves quickly responded with six quick runs of their own to knock the lefthander out of the game early.

Ryan Howard hit a sacrifice fly in the top of the first to knock home Shane Victorino, and Ben Francisco continued his assault at the plate with an RBI single later in the inning to give the Phillies a two-run lead. The Phillies tacked on another run in the second with more small ball, which gave Cliff some runs to work with.

Unfortunately, Lee was unable to hit his spots the entire night, often leaving pitches in the center of the plate. When Cliff is off, his pitches are just an inch or two off the corners towards the heart of the strike zone. Atlanta did not make any mistakes.

After knotting the game at three with several extra base hits in the bottom of the second, the Braves put up another three-spot in the bottom of the fourth. Chipper Jones laced a ball to center field with the bases loaded that glanced off Shane Victorino's glove and onto the warning track, allowing all three baserunners to score. Although the ball should have been caught, it was a consequence of Lee not hitting the corners.

The Phillies had a chance to retaliate in the top of the fifth with the bases loaded and one out for Ryan Howard, but he check-swung into a 1-2-3 double play. They were unable to put together another substantial offensive threat for the remainder of the game. Despite pitching poorly early, Hudson battled through seven and two-thirds solid innings for the 6-3 win in Atlanta's home opener. Rookie Craig Kimbrel recorded his third save of the year in the top of the ninth.

Highlights: In the bottom of the sixth, Chipper Jones singled to left-center for his 2500 career hit. He received a standing ovation and tipped his batting helmet towards the crowd…The Phillies bullpen pitched outstanding, with impressive outings from Kyle Kendrick, Antonio Bastardo, and JC Romero. Antonio Bastardo struck out six consecutive batters in the sixth and seventh innings.

Tomorrow: Roy Oswalt takes the mound in his second start of the year at 1:10 in Atlanta.


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