Phillies (24-27) at Boston Red Sox (32-20)

First pitch at 7:10 p.m.

After last night’s 9-3 drubbing in Beantown, the Phillies strategy to win the series and break even for the first time since Apr. 14 basically boils down to that of playoff basketball: steal Game 2 in Boston tonight before returning home to Citizens Bank Park, and without the DH, for the next two.

Front and center at that effort is Cliff Lee. Down and out may be half the Phillie bullpen.

Cliff Lee, Cruising

Lee (5-2, 2.48 ERA) has been masterful since leaving Cleveland. Since going 0-2 with a 6.00 ERA in three starts through that one, Lee’s punched a 1.16 ERA in four starts, two of them scoreless, including last Wednesday’s complete game in Miami, all of them Phillies wins.

But like the rest of the Phillies, Lee hasn’t enjoyed facing the Red Sox – especially not in Boston. He’s 1-2 with a 4.73 ERA in five career starts in Boston. Good news: Jacoby Ellsbury (1 for 12), Jonny Gomes (2 for 29), Steven Drew (1 for 9) and David Ortiz (6 for 29) have combined to hit .126 off Lee all-time. Only Napoli (5 for 16 with a home run and a double) has proven to be effective.

Three of the four runs Lee’s allowed in the span have been off of home runs, how the Red Sox beat up Tyler Cloyd so badly last night. Lot of short porches for gimme home runs at Fenway Park, examples being all four of Monday’s home runs. Dustin Pedroia’s first-inning shot was the shortest of his career, and those off the bats of Mike Napoli, Erik Kratz and Dom Brown didn’t go much farther.

Needing Relief

This is the risk with callups: early exits tax the bullpen.

Since Cloyd was chased with one out in the third, Charlie Manuel was forced to dip into his bullpen five times for only the second time this year. And that game, on May 8 in San Francisco, went to extras. None other than starter Jonathan Pettibone lasted more than three outs.

Michael Stutes, Jeremy Horst and Mike Adams each topped 30 pitches, and only Stutes used them to get more than four outs. All three are probably unavailable, leaving the Phillies only Antonio Bastardo for lefties like Ellsbury and Ortiz.

Chad Durbin has a 13.51 ERA in his last four appearances, none of them over one inning.

Justin De Fratus only threw two pitches, but has yet to go three straight days this year.

Ryan Dempster Fire

Dempster (2-5, 4.69 ERA) hasn't made it to the sixth inning in three weeks, serving 15 runs and 20 hits in 12 2/3 innings over three starts since. He lasted only three frames yet surrendered four his last time out and walked 10 in his last two.

Said Dempster recently: “My command has been terrible. Bottom line is I’ve got to fix that.”

Hasn’t been much better for him against the Phillies; he’s 1-4 with a 7.01 ERA in his last 11 starts.

Not that Phillies could do anything with 10 baserunners on Alfredo Aceves last night...

Ryan Howard is 5 for 14 with two home runs lifetime vs. Dempster. Knee issue and all, Howard’s hitting .348 with three doubles and three RBI this road trip.