The Phillies made economic use of their 6 hits as rightfielder Domonic Brown pounded a 2 out, 2 run second inning homer off of Boston’s Josh Beckett and centerfielder Shane Victorino followed suit with a 2 out, 2 run blast to rightfield in the sixth staking lefthander Cliff Lee to a 5-0 lead. Lee sacrificed in the 3rd run in the fifth while retiring 15 of the first 16 Red Sox he faced enroute to a 2 hit masterpiece for his 3rd consecutive shutout extending his scoreless streak to 32 innings and winning his 9th game of the season. Losing pitcher Beckett completed six innings giving up all 5 runs as Brown and Victorino homered and the Phillies’ Lee shut out the Red Sox 5-0 in their series opener.
Although they won, the Phils’ NL East lead remained at 5 games over the 2nd place Atlanta Braves who also won. The 3rd place Mets kept pace with the Phils at 9 games back by pounding Detroit while the 4th place Washington Nationals dropped to 10 1/2 games back after a drubbing by the L.A. Angels.
After 1st baseman Ryan Howard singled to leftfield to lead off the second inning, was rubbed out at 2nd on Victorino’s fielder’s choice grounder, and after leftfielder Raul Ibanez went down on strikes on 3 pitches, rookie rightfielder Brown worked Beckett to a 2-2 count before ripping a 2 run right centerfield homer to give the Phils and Lee an early 2-0 lead, Brown, who had been 4 for 34 in his previous 10 games and chastised by both manager Charlie Manuel and the fans for not running hard on a couple of plays in the Oakland series, got back on everyone’s good side by nailing his 5th homer.
But Brown wasn’t finished. He led off the fifth inning by doubling to leftfield and took 3rd base on catcher Carlos Ruiz’s fly out to rightfield. Lee then plated Brown with a sacrifice fly to leftfield and the lead was at 3-0.
The “Flyin’ Hawaiian’ added some icing in the sixth after 3rd baseman Placido Polanco opened the inning with a single. 2nd baseman Chase Utley bunted Polanco to 2nd base and Howard followed by flying out for the 2nd out. Victorino worked the count to 3-1 before slamming a 2 run shot to rightfield to cap the Phils’ scoring.
Meanwhile, Cliff Lee was again nothing short of masterful. The AP game recap for Yahoo sports notes:
Lee didn’t allow a hit until Marco Scutaro led off the sixth with a line-drive single to left-center. He ran his career-best scoreless streak to 32 innings with his ninth career shutout and fourth this year.
“It’s been a good run, no doubt about it,” Lee said. “I’ve had a few in my career, but I don’t look back and compare them. I want to throw a shutout every time out there. I never want to give up a run.”
Beckett (6-3) gave up five runs and five hits in six innings, his worst outing of the season. Beckett entered with a major league-best 1.86 ERA and left at 2.20. He hadn’t pitched because of the flu since tossing a one-hitter against Tampa Bay on June 15.
Darnell McDonald led off the eighth with a double to left, putting Lee’s shutout bid in jeopardy. But shortstop Jimmy Rollins made an outstanding play on Jason Varitek’s hard one-hopper up the middle for the first out. Lee then fanned Mike Cameron looking at a slow curve and retired Scutaro on a grounder to third.
Lee finished with five strikeouts and two walks. He has been sensational since a slow start. The lefty was 4-5 with a 3.94 ERA through May. Since then, he’s 5-0 with a 0.21 ERA in five starts this month.
Lee threw a two-hitter against Florida on June 16 and blanked St. Louis on six hits He needed 112 pitches to get through this one.
“He’s one of the best pitchers in the game, and he’s riding a hot streak. That is a bad combination for any team to face,” Red Sox manager Terry Francona said. “I haven’t seen all of his starts, but from what I have seen, he’s been quite impressive. He’s working counts, and he’s throwing strikes when he has to. He’s really got it going right now.”
The most popular player on the Phillies, Lee received several ovations from the 180th straight sellout, including postseason play, at Citizens Bank Park.
Following up on an earlier report regarding reliever Ryan Madson, AP reports for Yahoo sports:
The Philadelphia Phillies have placed closer Ryan Madson on the 15-day disabled list with a right hand contusion.
Madson is 3-1 with a 2.03 ERA and has 15 saves in 16 chances.
For all of Monday’s and Tuesday’s scores and recaps, click here and here.
In Wednesday’s game 2, young Vance Worley goes for his 3rd win vs veteran John Lackey for the BoSox.
For all Wednesday’s scheduled games throughout MLB, click here.