Lee throws third straight shutout in Phillies' win


Tuesday, June 28, 2011
Posted: 9:45 p.m.Updated: 11:56 p.m.

By Jim Salisbury


Cliff Lee did it again.

He pitched the Phillies to a victory in Game 1 of the World Series.

He did it in 2009 against the New York Yankees.

And he did it again Tuesday night against the Boston Red Sox.

All right. All right. This wasnt the World Series. It was way too hot and muggy for that. It was also four months early.

But Tuesday nights Phillies-Boston Red Sox game was billed as a World Series preview. And with a little of that postseason excitement in the air at Citizens Bank Park, Lee was at his best, pitching his third straight shutout in lifting the Phillies to a 5-0 win and giving them their 50th win as the season arrives at the mathematical halfway point on Wednesday night.

Lee didnt buy into any of that World Series preview stuff.

Its June, he said. Were a long way from the playoffs. It was definitely loud in the ninth inning. We sell out every game. But the postseason is definitely different.

Lee became the first Phillies pitcher since Hall of Famer Robin Roberts to pitch three straight shutouts.

Told of that feat, the unassuming left-hander responded with a shrug.

When Im done with my career, Ill look back and it will be something to be proud of, he said. But Im not going to pat myself on the back right now. I have to stay in my routine and prepare for each start. This one is over. I have to move on and prepare for my next start.

I hope my career is memorable, but right now Im just playing to help us win today.

Lee finished June 5-0 with an 0.21 ERA in five starts. He allowed one run in 42 innings and is riding a 32-inning scoreless streak.

Think about those numbers for a second.


Lees big June has put him in line for selection to the National League all-star team. He is 9-5 with a 2.66 ERA after 16 starts. Roy Halladay and Cole Hamels could also be bound for Phoenix next month. Halladay is 10-3 with a 2.40 ERA. Hamels is 9-4 with a 2.49 ERA.

Heading into the season, the Phils had the potential of having an historically good rotation. Roy Oswalt and Joe Blanton are on the disabled list. But halfway into the season, Lee, Halladay and Hamels are holding their own as the Phils bid to have three 20-game winners.

Thats pretty special.

I expect to do something really special, Lee said. I expect to win the World Series. Can't do that right now. What we need to do to do that is to win today and win tomorrow. Not going to win every day, but once the game's behind you, put it behind you and move on to the next day. Focus on winning that day. You do that, our talent is going play out and we're going to win. The times we lose, it's usually because we fail to execute fundamental stuff. But when we're on top of things, and play the right way, we're going to win."

The Phils were on top of things Tuesday night.

They hit for power. They moved runners. And Lee held the best offensive team in the majors to just two hits.

Domonic Brown and Shane Victorino both had two-run homers against Josh Beckett. Lee drove in the Phils other run with a sacrifice fly in the fifth.

Anything you can do to help the team win you should take pride in, Lee said. I was trying to get a sacrifice fly there and I did.

Lee has given up one run since being ambushed for six in 5 13 innings at Washington on May 31. Since then, hes thrown more curveballs, trying to get hitters from sitting on his fastball and cutter. The strategy has worked.

Im making good pitches and staying out of the heart of the zone, Lee said. And were scoring a lot of runs and playing good defense. We played a complete game tonight. Pitching, defense, score runs. Thats what it takes to win. We did that tonight and weve been doing it that way for a while. Thats why were in first place. Thats why were a good team.

Lee is on a roll similar to the 2009 postseason, when he was 4-0 with a 1.56 ERA in five starts for the Phillies.

Just dont ask him about it.

I barely remember yesterday, never mind 09, he said.

Catcher Carlos Ruiz remembers 09. He said Lee is right there.

Same stuff, same guy, Ruiz said.

The Red Sox were without Carl Crawford and designated hitter David Ortiz did not play because of the National League rules. Those two bats might not have mattered the way Lee pitched. He mixed four pitches while walking two and striking out five. He opened the game with five no-hit innings. There was no doubt Lee was going the distance. He had 100 pitches after eight innings and finished with 112.

In the bullpen, he was great, Ruiz said. He had good location. He was down with everything and everything was working.

It all added up to a victory in Game 1 of the World Series.

Or at least Game 1 of the World Series preview.
E-mail Jim Salisbury at jsalisbury@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow him on Twitter @JSalisburyCSN.

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