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Lee, Asche lead Phillies over Mets 2-1

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NEW YORK (AP)

Cliff Lee is not blaming Charlie Manuel for the Philadelphia Phillies' lackluster season, nor is he going to credit new manager Ryne Sandberg for their recent run of improved play.

To the lefty ace, it's on the players either way.

Lee outpitched Zack Wheeler after the Mets learned All-Star starter Matt Harvey has a partially torn ligament in his right elbow, Cody Asche had a two-run triple, and Philadelphia beat New York 2-1 Monday night.

After losing to the streaking Dodgers in Sandberg's first two games following Manuel's dismissal, the Phillies have won seven of nine.

''We're grinding it out a little more, just playing hard from the start to the finish,'' Lee said. ''It's just more of a get-after-it-and-let's-go-frame of mind.''

Lee (11-3) gave a bullpen taxed by an 18-inning loss Saturday a much-needed rest. He allowed a run and five hits in eight innings to win for the first time in seven starts since July 5. He also made several nice plays in the field.

Asche hit his first major league triple - with two outs in the fourth - and the Phillies won for the second time in 15 road games. Asche started his big league career that began July 30 in a 1-for-17 slump, but has settled in nicely since then. He is hitting over .300, and Sandberg thinks the third baseman could be in the majors for a while.

''He's made some adjustments,'' Sandberg said. ''He's really feeling comfortable in his whole game. With his approach and line-drive stroke that he naturally has I think he's really relaxed and he's really starting the show that he's got a good chance to hit the ball every time.''

Wheeler got two quick groundball outs to open the fourth. But he gave up a single to Michael Young, and walked Darin Ruf. Asche then lined a fastball into right-center and never stopped at second base. The relay throw home was late, and Ruf easily made it 2-1.

''You've got to learn to cut the distractions aside and control your emotions and just get back to baseball,'' Asche said of his slow start.

The Phillies avoided falling again behind the Mets, who lost their fifth straight and dropped into fourth place in the NL East.

Jonathan Papelbon was perfect in the ninth for his 22nd save in 28 opportunities.

Wheeler (6-3) worked 6 2-3 impressive innings in his 13th big league start.

New York lost for just the second time in 10 outings. The rising star gave up two runs and five hits, and threw 105 pitches hours after finding out that Harvey - the pitcher he has formed a top-of-the-rotation tandem with - could miss all of next season.

Wheeler was lifted with Lee coming to bat, but he had reached his pitch limit, and manager Terry Collins wasn't going alter the plan.

''It's definitely going to be a while before any of us get back up there in pitch count. It's not their fault, but it's just human when your best pitcher goes down,'' Wheeler said. ''It's part of the game and I understand it.''

The Mets were stunned to learn Harvey has a torn ulnar collateral ligament. The NL Cy Young Award contender felt more discomfort in his right forearm than usual Saturday during his start against Detroit and he was sent to the Hospital for Special Surgery on Monday for an exam, which included an MRI.

''It was tough. Obviously, it was the last thing I was expecting when I went this morning,'' Harvey said. ''I am going to do everything I can to avoid surgery.''

For now, Harvey will rest the arm. A more detailed prognosis won't be made until the swelling in his elbow goes down, which can take more than two weeks.

General manager Sandy Alderson said during a downcast news conference the injury wasn't caused by one incident, but is ''progressive,'' so even if the 24-year-old Harvey can avoid surgery now it might be necessary in the future. Recovery time for Tommy John surgery is about a year.

Harvey went 9-5 with a 2.27 ERA in 26 starts and was the NL starter in the All-Star game at Citi Field.

The right-hander sat next to injured captain David Wright in the dugout to watch the first couple of innings of fellow first-round pick Wheeler's outing.

Wheeler didn't disappoint, but the 2008 AL Cy Young Award winner Lee was a bit better.

Until the eighth, Lee didn't face trouble after the Mets got a gift in the second inning when they took a 1-0 lead.

Marlon Byrd led off the second with a routine fly to right-center. In what appeared to be a moment of indecision between center fielder Roger Bernadina and right fielder John Mayberry Jr., the ball fell in between the two for a double. Byrd scored on Andrew Brown's single.

With two outs in the eighth, Lee struck out Juan Lagares with runners on first and second after falling behind 2-0 in the count - the Mets' only inning besides the second in which they had more than one baserunner.

''I didn't feel as good as it turned out, to be honest with you,'' Lee said. ''I felt like I had to battle and was able to continue to get outs.''

NOTES: Collins said RHP Carlos Torres will start Thursday in place of Harvey. Torres got two outs Monday. ... The Phillies placed OF Casper Wells on the 15-day DL because of vision problems, two days after he gave up five runs as an emergency reliever in the 18th inning of the Phillies' loss to Arizona. Pete Orr was called up from Triple-A Lehigh Valley. ... Phillies OF Domonic Brown (right Achilles soreness) was out of the starting lineup for a second straight game. He popped out foul in the ninth.

Tagged: Mets, Phillies, Michael Young, Cliff Lee, Pete Orr

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