In the month of August, Cliff Lee has been amazingLEE, wonderfuLEE and happiLEE spectacular on the mound. Lee nearly duplicated his equally stunning month of June, where he went 5-0 with a 0.21 ERA. He ended August tonight with the same record of 5-0 and a 0.45 ERA.
Against the Reds on Wednesday night, Lee was dominant, as usual. Over 8.2 innings, Lee allowed only six hits plus one walk and a hit batter in the 9th. In short, he was magical.
The Phillies offense was a bit sluggish against an old foe in Dontrelle Willis, who pitched for the Marlins during his better days. Since then, Willis has struggled to find a solid place in the majors. But the Reds gave him another shot and he appears to be trying to take advantage of that. He allowed some runs, but was pretty good overall.
After Willis walked the first two batters he faced, the Phillies scored one run on a Ryan Howard force out in the 1st. Later in the sixth, Hunter Pence took Willis deep for a 2-0 Phillies lead. Shane Victorino scored in the seventh on another ground ball out, this time from Chase Utley.
So while the offense scored only three runs, that appeared to be all Lee needed. The defense backed Lee as well, although some of the outs they recorded were rather unorthodox.
For example, in the 5th, Wilson Valdez started to turn what looked like a great double play. He fed the ball to Utley, but Utley fired to first way over the head of Howard. As the ball ricocheted off the wall beyond 1st, Carlos Ruiz snagged the ball and fired back to Utley, who tagged out the runner going to second on the overthrow. Ruiz saved Utley from the error and turned a very odd double play.
In the 9th inning, Lee finally ran into trouble after a hit, a walk and then a hit batter. The hit batter was questionable as Miguel Cairo clearly leaned into the pitch. And unfortunately, that prevented Lee from recording his sixth shut-out of the year as he was pulled in favor of Ryan Madson. But Madson took care of the Reds with only three pitches to end the game.
With the 3-0 win, Cliff Lee has now recorded two months without a loss and at least five wins with an ERA under 1.00. That feat has only been accomplished two times before.
The win also guarantees another series win for the Phillies who have taken the first three games in this four game series. Vance Worley will pitch in the finale tomorrow; game time is 12:35pm.
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Lee Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography