After pounding St. Louis for 9 runs in the eighth inning to take the series opener, the Phillies and Cardinals traded wins in games 2 and 3. On Wednesday, lefthander Cliff Lee tossed another masterful complete game shutout, his 2nd consecutive blanking as shortstop Jimmy Rollins and 1st baseman Ryan Howard slammed fourth inning homers off of starter Kyle Lohse to stake Lee to a 3-0 lead. Lee gave up 6 hits and walked 1 while striking out 3 in his 4th straight magnificent effort and his 8th win of the season. He’s given up but 1 run in his last 33 innings. 2nd baseman Chase Utley added some icing in the ninth inning driving in the Phils’ 4 run on a sacrifice fly to leftfield. On Thursday, the Cards extracted a measure of consolation for Tuesday’s opener by reaching Roy Oswalt for outfielder Jon Jay’s first inning solo shot and 3 more second inning runs as Oswalt showered early complaining again of lower back tightness. Kyle Kendrick went four innings of long relief giving up 2 runs before the Cards broke the game open with 6 eighth inning runs, including a 3 run capping homer by 1st baseman Lance Berkman, all off of reliever Danys Baez. The Phils managed a single sixth inning run off of Cards starter Chris Carpenter on Ryan Howard’s 2 out RBI single to rightfield. Catcher Carlos Ruiz belted a meaningless ninth inning 2 out solo homer off of reliever Jason Motte as the Phillies split the final 2 games with the Cardinals winning 4-0 and losing 12-2.
With the loss, the Phils’ NL East lead dropped to 4 games over the 2nd place Atlanta Braves. The 3rd place Washington Nationals won their game to go a game over .500 while trailing the Phils by 8 1/2 games. The 4th place Mets won their game and are 9 1/2 games off the pace.
The AP recap of Wednesday’s game for Yahoo sports notes:
Lee scattered six hits and the Philadelphia Phillies got homers from Jimmy Rollins and Ryan Howard in the fourth inning of a 4-0 victory Wednesday night.
Kyle Lohse (7-4) worked eight innings to match his season best, allowing three runs and seven hits with no walks or strikeouts. He struggled only in the fourth when Rollins led off with his seventh homer and Howard hit a two-run shot and his 16th overall with one out following a single by Chase Utley.
Lohse said he had to alter his game plan because strikes on the inside corner weren’t getting called. He thought he had Rollins struck out a few pitches before giving up the homer.
“I kind of fell behind Howard and he was looking away and I left the ball up,” Lohse said. “Other than that, I felt like I was in control. It was just an unfortunate night to be going against Lee.”
Utley added an eighth-inning sacrifice fly for the NL East-leading Phillies, who have won 10 of 12…
Lee (8-5) has won all four of his starts this month… lowering his ERA from 3.94 to 2.87. The 2008 AL Cy Young winner followed a two-hitter over Florida with his eighth career shutout and has a 23-inning scoreless streak.
Leaning on his cutter, Lee retired 11 straight between the third and seventh inning and threw a career-high 126 pitches. Only Lohse reached third base after hitting a leadoff double off a curveball in the third for his first extra-base hit of the season.
“He threw the ball well all night as advertised,” said Cardinals leadoff man Ryan Theriot, who had a single and walk. “You know what you’re going to get. I thought we had a few little chances there, but Cliff’s a great pitcher and that’s what he does.”
The AP recap of Thursday’s game describes the Cardinal’s consolation win:
The Cardinals starter who hadn’t won since May 10 threw seven strong innings and Jon Jay and Lance Berkman homered to lead St. Louis to a 12-2 win over the Philadelphia Phillies on Thursday.
Carpenter (2-7) allowed one run and five hits to end a string of seven successive starts without a win. Carpenter struck out seven and walked one.
St. Louis won for the first time since three-time NL MVP Albert Pujols fractured his left forearm on Sunday. The Cardinals managed just two runs and 11 hits during the first two games without Pujols, who is out 4 to 6 weeks.
Philadelphia starter Roy Oswalt (4-6) left after two innings due to tightness in his lower back. He gave up four runs and five hits in his shortest start since a two-inning outing in a 9-7 loss to Atlanta on September 10, 2009.
“I was more heaving the ball than throwing the ball,” Oswalt said. “I’ll have an MRI on Monday, I think.”
Carpenter entered the game with the 11th-lowest run support among NL starters at 3.38 runs per game. His teammates scored three times in the second and once in the third to give him an early 5-0 cushion.
Carpenter has gone at least six innings in 14 of 16 starts this season. He allowed three runs or less in four of his last six starts but was unable to pick up a victory due to the lack of offensive support.
“I just feel like every time he’s taken the mound, he’s had hard luck,” said Berkman. “The guy just can’t catch a break.”
Carpenter retired 10 of the first 11 hitters. He gave up three successive singles in the sixth, including a run-scoring hit by Ryan Howard, with two outs.
“He was nasty the whole game,” Cardinals rookie catcher Tony Cruz said. “Whatever I called, he was there. He was just on.”
Jay hit his fifth homer of the season, a 422-foot shot to right off Oswalt to give the Cardinals a 1-0 lead. Berkman capped off a six-run outburst in the eighth with a three-run shot, his 18th of the season.
Colby Rasmus, Skip Schumaker and… Cruz opened the second with successive singles to push the lead to 2-0. Carpenter added a sacrifice bunt before Ryan Theriot ripped a two-run single to make it 4-0.
Cruz added a run-scoring single in the sixth. He finished 2 for 3 with the first two RBIs of his career.
Matt Holliday drove in two runs with a bases-loaded single in the eighth off reliever Danys Baez, who gave up six runs in the inning.
For all of Thursday’s scores and recaps, click here.
The Phils now return after a 3-3 road trip for a 6 game interleague homestand, first facing the Oakland A’s for a 3 game weeked series. Monday is an off-day before entertaining the Boston Red Sox for 3 games next Tuesday through Thursday. In Friday’s series opener, Vance Worley opposes Guillermo Moscoso. On Saturday, lefthander Cole Hamels again goes for his 10th win opposed by Trevor Cahill for Oakland.
For all of Friday’s and Saturday’s scheduled games throughout MLB, click here and here.