Phillies ace lefthander Cliff Lee continued his domination of NL hitters on Monday and 1st baseman Ryan Howard slammed a 1 out, 3 run homer to left centerfield off of Mets starter Bobby Parnell to stake Lee to a 3-0 lead. But leadoff hitter centerfielder Angel Pagan opened the first inning by again circling the bases, this time scoring as normally sure-defensive-handed 2nd baseman Chase Utley committed 2 errors on 1 play. A triple and a sacrifice fly gave the Mets their 2nd run in the first. Howard added a third inning 1 out, 2 run homer to give Lee some breathing room. After the raucus first inning, Lee settled down and went seven innings to win his 5th game in 5 outings for the Phils. Chan Ho Park took over in the eighth making short work of the Mets and closer Brad Lidge did likewise in the ninth as Lee and Howard led the Phillies past the Mets by a 6-2 score in the series final to win 3 of the 4 games.
Centerfielder Shane Victorino reached to open the game as Mets’ starter Parnell hit him with a pitch on a 2-2 count. Victorino was in the leadoff spot as normal leadoff hitter shortstop Jimmy Rollins got the day off, replaced by Sunday’s triple-play hero utility infielder Eric Bruntlett. After rightfielder Jayson Werth fouled out, the “flyin’ Hawaiian” took 3rd base on catcher Omir Santos’ throwing error on an attempted steal of 2nd. Parnell then walked Utley. Howard responded with the first of his two homers in the game, an opposite-field bomb to left centerfield, to give the Phils an early 3-0 lead. Parnell then struck out Leftfielder Raul Ibanez and coaxed 3rd baseman Pedro Feliz into a groundout to end the inning.
AP baseball writer Mike Fitzpatrick reports regarding Howard’s homer for Yahoo sports:
The home run… pushed Howard past 100 RBIs, giving him four straight seasons with at least 30 homers and 100 RBIs. The only other Phillies player to accomplish that was Hall of Famer Chuck Klein from 1929-32.
Although the Mets were the first NL club to score 2 runs against Lee since his arrival with the Phillies, the 1st one was of no fault of his. 2nd baseman Utley first dropping Pagan’s leadoff pop up and then threw wildly to 2nd as the speedy centerfielder continued circling the bases. Then Lee made what may have been his only mistake of the game. Leftfielder Gary Sheffield nailed a 2-2 pitch to rightfield for a triple and scored on a sacrifice fly to rightfield by 3rd baseman Fernando Tatis. The Mets would score no further runs as they could only manage a single base runner in any one inning off of either winning pitcher Lee or the Phils bullpen after the first inning.
Parnell walked Werth to open the third inning and Howard gave Lee some wiggle-room by pounding a full-count pitch to rightfield for his 34th homer of the season and 103rd and 104th RBIs. It was Howard’s 4th multi-homer game of the season, his 2nd within 8 games.
The Phils scored their 6th run in the ninth inning off of reliever Pedro Feliciano on Ibanez’s RBI double.
AP’s Fitzpatrick writes regarding Cliff Lee:
Lee, last year’s AL Cy Young Award winner, yielded six hits and no walks against a light-hitting lineup that featured Fernando Tatis (six homers) in the cleanup spot. The left-hander struck out five.
“Whenever he’s on the bump, you feel pretty confident,” Howard said.
“It was already an unbelievable team before I got here. That’s made it easy for me,” Lee said. “It’s been a pretty smooth transition.”
Ryan Howard’s first-inning home run at Citi Field on Monday produced his 600th career RBI. He reached that milestone in his 693rd game, the fastest for any major-league player since 1946, when Ted Williams collected his 600th RBI in his 675th game.
Cliff Lee allowed only two unearned runs in seven innings at Citi Field on Monday, improving to 5-0 with a 0.68 ERA since joining the Phillies. Lee and Fernando Valenzuela are the only major-league pitchers in the past 60 years to win each of their first five career starts for a team, with an ERA below 1.00 over those five games. Valenzuela made 10 appearances in relief for the Dodgers in 1980 and then made his first career start on Opening Day of the 1981 season. Through five starts in 1981, Valenzuela’s ERA was 0.20.
Lee went seven innings throwing 114 pitches giving up 2 runs, neither earned, on 6 hits while striking out 5. He now has a string of 16 innings over 2 games without issuing a walk. Relievers Park and Lidge went clean on the Mets in the eighth and ninth inning respectively.
Losing pitcher Bobby Parnell went five innings throwing 103 pitches giving up 5 runs on Howard’s 2 homers, 4 hits while walking 3 and striking out 3. Ex-closer Billy Wagner made his 2nd appearance for the Mets since returning from Tommy John surgery. Wagner walked 1, struck out 2 and allowed no hits.
For the scores of all of Monday’s games, click here.
For all of Tuesday’s games, click here.