Friday, May 25, 2012

Phillies stand tall, beat Cardinals in 10

ST. LOUIS – Cliff Lee didn’t have a win in six starts this season entering Friday night, but more unsettling for the competitive and combative left-hander was the fact that the Phillies had won just one of his those six games.
Lee didn’t turn down a more lucrative offer from the Yankees two winters ago and an enticing overture from the Texas Rangers, who have appeared in the last two World Series, to come to a team that would regularly lose when he took the mound.
So you probably can blame Lee when his emotions spilled over in the middle of Friday’s game at Busch Stadium. Lee exchanged a few heated words with Shane Victorino after the center fielder badly misplayed a long fly ball that turned into a leadoff triple in the fourth inning.
Manager Charlie Manuel had to intervene.

“They had a little heated words, that’s all right,” Manuel said afterward. “It’s good sometimes.”
Lee didn’t factor in the decision by the fightin’ Phils figured out a way to win a game he started.
Hunter Pence launched a two-run, opposite field home run on the first pitch he saw in the 10th inning to deliver the streaking Phillies a 5-3 win in St. Louis. Pence’s game-winning home run snapped a personal 0-for-13 spell.
After following up a season-high six-game winning streak with a season-high four-game losing streak, the Phils have won three straight, including back-to-back games over the defending World Champion Cardinals at Busch. The Phils (24-23) remain in last place in the National League East but are once again over the .500 mark.
“We just need to win some games – it’s what we need to do,” Manuel said. “Hopefully we can continue.”
While Pence supplied the decisive blow in the 10th, the game’s most pivotal play may have come three innings earlier. If nothing else, it was the bets defensive play of the season from the Phils.
After Jose Contreras replaced Lee and got the first two batters he faced out to begin the eighth, he gave up a two-out hit to Yadier Molina and was replaced with Jake Diekman. On the second pitch Diekman threw, Matt Adams ripped a ball to the right-center gap.
With Molina chugging around the bases, Victorino gathered the ball and fired to Freddy Galvis. The rookie second baseman unleashed a strike to catcher Carlos Ruiz, who was violently knocked to the dirt by Molina in a play at the plate.
Ruiz held on and received a gentlemanly pat in the rump from Molina, his catching counterpart. Afterward, Manuel gave Galvis props for his relay throw – a pea from right-center field.
“He was out there pretty deep, he did a good job,” Manuel said. “He’s amazing. I love to watch him, that’s the reason I rave about him a lot. He’s absolutely unreal. To be a rookie in the big leagues and have a knowledge of a game like that, and play that tension-free, loose baseball. That’s unreal.”
The game-saving play began a run of three scoreless innings from the Phillies bullpen.
Raul Valdes got the win. He escaped a two-on, out-out jam in the ninth, striking out both Tyler Greene and Matt Holliday, before turning the ball over to Jonathan Papelbon.
Papelbon pitched a 1-2-3 frame in the 10th to improve to 14-for-14 in save chances.
Lee hasn’t won a game since Sept. 26, 2011. In his last 11 starts dating back to last season, Lee has a 2.61 ERA with 81 strikeouts and 10 walks in 76 innings.
But he has just one win over that span.
“You can't really control it as a pitcher,” Lee said of the 0-2 record next to his 2.82 ERA after seven starts. “I did have a two-run lead that I let slip away, so some of that's my fault."
Lee’s start at Busch Stadium was his first against the Cardinals since blowing a 4-0 lead in Game 2 of the National League Division Series to the eventual World Series champions last October. Lee would once again find himself with a lead against the Cardinals on Friday.
After Placido Polanco and Galvis hit back-to-back, one-out singles in the second, both came around to score on a single from Jimmy Rollins and on the second straight at-bat that Juan Pierre reached via error in the game’s first two innings.
Lee gave both runs back almost immediately.
He gave up back-to-back doubles in the second, as the Cardinals trimmed their deficit to 2-1. In the third, Rafael Furcal led off with a game-tying solo home run.
Lee surrendered the lead an inning later – but the defense behind him was just as much to blame.
Freese led of the fourth with a bomb to deep center that literally sent Victorino running in circles in pursuit. The ball fell in just in front of the wall and Freese ended up on third base.
Two pitches later, Molina singled to center to give St. Louis a 3-2 lead. One batter later, Victorino and Pence converged on a fly ball but neither caught it.
The second misplay in the outfield didn’t lead to a run. But it probably further fueled Lee’s need to air out his three-time Gold Glove-winning center fielder.
“It’s going to stay between us,” Lee said, refusing to talk about the altercation.
Victorino dismissed reporters seeking comment. If Lee couldn’t send a message in the dugout, he tried to do so at the plate and on the bases.
When he led off the seventh inning with a single, Lee picked up the Phillies second hit since the second inning. The other hit was also off his bat.
After making good at the plate, Lee decided to show off his foot speed, too. When Juan Pierre ripped a double to the gap in left-center, Lee broke off first base and made a mad dash around the bases, culminating with him crossing the plate uncontested to score the game-tying run.
But Lee’s work on the mound, at the plate and on the bases couldn’t put an end his winless streak.
“He’s going to win some games,” Manuel said. “He’ll win his share. When it’s all said and done, he’ll win his share.”


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