Phillies Back Lee For 4-2 Win Over Nationals
PHILADELPHIA—The last time Cliff Lee took the hill, the state of his team had him venting frustration after the game.
There would be none of that tonight.
For the second straight night against their division rivals, the Phillies punched a complete performance, this time for a 4-2 win over the Nationals at Citizens Bank Park tonight.
Lee dazzled yet again, tossing eight innings of two-run ball, surrendering only five hits with nine strikeouts and no walks. Solo home runs to Jayson Werth and Jeff Kobernus in the fourth and eighth innings were his only damage.
But such things have become routine for Lee, now the winner of seven straight games since May 6. He’s worked a 1.98 ERA over the span. Even after an hour and eight minutes of rain delays.
After the game, Lee was asked about his comments in Minnesota on June 13, widely interpreted as an inkling that he might prefer to pitch elsewhere. Lee said they have it wrong.
“I was asked questions and I answered them truthfully about how I felt,” he said. “I’ll continue to do that. I try to be honest and say how I feel.
“I don’t really care how it’s interpreted, to be honest with you. I want to win. I signed here to win. That’s not going to ever change, no matter who asks me that. I’ll say that to anyone.
“I think that was misconstrued into thinking I want to play somewhere else. That’s not the case. I want to win, and I want to win here. That’s it.
“I’m going to continue to answer questions honestly. That’s the only way I know how to do it.”
As GM Ruben Amaro has deftly pointed out this week, Lee’s control over the situation is limited to blocking trade attempts. He can’t initiate them. Amaro has yet to intimate a willingness to do so himself.
Performances like these provide reasons he shouldn't.
The Phillies small balled a run answer Werth’s shot in the fourth. Ryan Howard soared a sac fly in to score Michael Young, who lead off the frame with a double and scurried to third on a Jimmy Rollins sacrifice bunt.
They tacked on three more in the sixth. After the loading the bases with no outs, Domonic Brown and Delmon Young fell on strikes. But Kevin Frandsen’s hot bat sizzled again. He roped a two-run single for the go-ahead runs. He’s hitting .375 with a .923 OPS this month.
Earlier that inning, Michael Young slapped an RBI double to score Ben Revere after a bunt single.
The surge masked blemishes.
Lee smoked a single up the middle in the fifth. On the play, despite two outs and the top of the order due up, third base coach Ryne Sandberg, who’s been criticized for decision-making of late, sent Delmon Young home. He was out. It wasn’t close.
The mojo spilled over elsewhere.
Michael Young muscled to stretch another double in the seventh, giving him three doubles for only his second time ever and first since April 2006. Howard barreled for a standup triple to lead off the eighth. It was only his second three-base hit this season.
High energy plays to ignite a club that 72 hours ago was coughing up a lung.
Jonathan Papelbon logged his 14th save and first after his only blown save this season last night.
“I’m confident that we can win,” he said. “I like our team. If all our guys are healthy and on the field, I’m confident that we can beat anyone.
“I’m confident that the organization is going to do everything I can to field the best team. Those are all reasons why I came here. That’s what I expect. That’s what I think everyone here should expect.
“I don’t think anyone is happy with the way we played. That’s all I was saying in Minnesota. I don’t really care how that’s taken to be honest with you.”
What matters isn't what he said, but what inspired it.
For now, the Phillies aren't triggering any complaints.