Phillies lefthander Cliff Lee, who was sooo lights-out in June, has had no success in July having been clubbed twice while twice pitching well but either receiving no offensive support or not being in on the final decision in a Phils win. On Monday, he was given an early 1-0 lead, only to be pounded for 4 second inning San Diego runs with another added in the fourth. He was pulled for a pinch hitter in the bottom of the fourth. The Phils scored 2 runs in their fourth and another in the sixth as centerfielder Shane Victorino went 3 for 4 with a double, a triple and an RBI with leftfielder Raul Ibanez getting 2 hits, one of them a double and driving in a run. Rightfielder Domonic Brown also lashed a fourth inning triple and drove in a run. But the margin of the Padres win turned out to be outfielder Chris Denorfia’s fourth inning steal of home on a lame pick-off attempt by Lee. Padres starter Aaron Harang went six innings for his 9th win and the Phils could do nothing with the San Diego bullpen the rest of the way as Lee was pounded as the Phillies were edged by Padres by 5-4, thus avoiding a 4 game sweep.
Despite the loss, The Phils’ maintained their 6 game NL East lead over the 2nd place Atlanta Braves who again lost yet again, this time to Pittsburgh. The 3rd place Mets are now 13 1/2 games back, while 4th place Washington Nationals were off on Monday and are 15 games back.
Denorfia sparked San Diego with its first steal of home since 2005. It had only seemed that long since the Padres were able to defeat Philadelphia.
Aaron Harang outpitched Cliff Lee, Denorfia stole home and the San Diego Padres beat the Philadelphia Phillies for the first time in more than a year, 5-4 on Monday.
Harang (9-2) gave up four runs in six innings to help the Padres avoid a four-game sweep and defeat the Phillies for the first time since June 7, 2010. The Phillies had beaten the Padres 10 straight times, their second-longest streak against them since winning 11 from 2004-06.
Lee (9-7) lasted only four innings, his second-shortest outing of the season. He allowed 10 hits, five runs and made a pickoff blunder that allowed Denorfia to steal home.
His soft toss to first gave Denorfia the opening he needed to bolt from third and give the Padres a 3-1 lead.
“I started to walk and when it looked like a pick, I took off,” Denorfia said.
After the Phillies staked Lee to a 1-0 lead, he unraveled in the second. Lee, who had allowed only three runs over 14 innings in his last two starts, gave up four in the inning.
Jesus Guzman led off the inning with a double and scored on Rob Johnson’s tying double. Johnson came around on Denorfia’s single to left. Denorfia advanced to second on the throw home, stole third, then scored when Lee attempted to pick off Jason Bartlett at first. Chase Headley’s RBI double to center made it 4-1 and the Phillies couldn’t recover.
Lee said he soft-tossed to first because he saw Bartlett wasn’t trying to steal. His rare mental mistake was all Denorfia needed to become the first Padre to steal home since Mark Sweeney on July 6, 2005.
“That’s the first time that’s ever happened,” Lee said. “I didn’t even consider that as a possibility right there.
….There was little good cheer after Ryan Ludwick’s sacrifice fly made it 5-1.
The Padres, in last place in the NL West, snapped a three-game losing streak. They did it without getting a hit after the fifth inning.
The loss appeared to be just a minor blip for the Phillies. They open a three-game series Tuesday at home with defending World Series champion San Francisco. The Giants eliminated the Phillies in last year’s NL championship series.
The Phillies squandered two big scoring chances that could have led to a sweep.
In the eighth, Victorino was stranded on third after a two-out triple. And Ryan Howard was easily thrown out at home on Victorino’s two-out double off the right-field wall in the first.
Brown’s first career triple and Carlos Ruiz’s run-scoring single in the fourth off Harang cut it to 5-3. Ibanez added an RBI single in the sixth.
Heath Bell pitched the ninth for his 29th save. Domonic Brown opened the ninth with a walk and advanced to second on a sacrifice. Ross Gload, who leads the majors with 13 pinch hits, struck out swinging on a 95 mph fastball. Bell retired Jimmy Rollins on a flyout to save it for Harang.
Harang improved to 4-0 with 2.17 ERA over his last nine starts.
For all of Monday’s scores and recaps, click here.
The defending NL champion San Francisco Giants are next in for a 3 game series with the Phils beginning on Tuesday in a possible tune-up for an October, 2011 NLCS rematch. Young Vance Worley looks for his 7th win in the opener opposing Giant ace Tim Lincecum who is having a sub-par season.
For all of Tuesday’s scheduled games throughout MLB, click here.