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Lee has 2-hitter on mound, at plate

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PHILADELPHIA (AP)

Cliff Lee's swing is nearly as impressive as his arm.

Lee tossed a two-hitter and had two hits and an RBI, helping the Philadelphia Phillies beat the Florida Marlins 3-0 Thursday to complete a four-game sweep and win their seventh in a row.

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Lee (7-5) didn't allow a hit until Mike Stanton grounded a single to center with two outs in the fifth. He struck out four and walked two to record his seventh career shutout and second this season.

Lee got the Phillies started offensively with an RBI double in the fourth. After an 0-for-13 start at the plate, he's 8 for 20 with two doubles and four RBI.

''I like doing both,'' he said. ''Obviously my job is to pitch, but any time you can contribute, it's a good feeling.''

Lee has a short, compact stroke that's more fluid than some of the regulars. He routinely hits ball hard in batting practice and sometimes shows frustration when he doesn't.

''As pitchers, we're not expected to hit, but I try to take it serious and help the team win any way I can,'' Lee said.

Ryan Howard homered for the NL East-leading Phillies, who improved their major league-best record to 44-26.

The struggling Marlins have lost 15 of 16. They were 29-19 and just one game behind Philadelphia after a 1-0 victory in San Francisco on May 26 but are 3-18 since and have fallen 11 1/2 games out.

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Florida's Javier Vazquez (3-7) allowed two runs and eight hits in five innings in his best start in a while. He entered with the highest ERA in the majors among starters at 7.09.

''Vazquez kept us in the game,'' Marlins manager Edwin Rodriguez said. ''He just made a bad pitch to Lee.''

After Michael Martinez hit a two-out single in the fourth, Lee drove a 1-2 pitch off the fence in right-center. Lee is batting .242 (8 for 33) overall.

Howard lined an opposite-field shot out to left-center in the fifth. He finished the 11-game homestand with three homers and 11 RBI.

Jimmy Rollins hit an RBI double in the sixth to increase the lead to 3-0. Rollins was just 7 for 37 during the homestand, but had three homers and 10 RBI.

Lee has been outstanding in his last three starts, going 3-0 with an 0.38 ERA. The lefty is 5-1 since losing at St. Louis on May 16 and has lowered his ERA to 3.12.

''I don't know how much more he can do,'' Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said. ''He did a super job.''

Logan Morrison had Florida's other hit, a single leading off the seventh. The Marlins were outscored 25-6 in the series.

Notes: The Phillies are 31-7 when they hit at least one homer. ... A crowd of 45,628 was the 176th straight sellout at Citizens Bank Park, including postseason play. ... Howard is 8 for 21 with four homers and eight RBIs off Vazquez. ... Lee has 22 career complete games. ... The Phillies head to Seattle after a 9-2 homestand. ... Lee trails teammate Roy Halladay 114-111 for most strikeouts in the majors. ... The Phillies have thrown nine shutouts. ... Florida's worst stretch was a 3-19 skid late in the 1998 season. ... Marlins SS Hanley Ramirez didn't start the day game after playing last night. He grounded out as a pinch-hitter in the ninth.

Tagged: Javier Vazquez, Phillies, Marlins, Cliff Lee, Ryan Howard

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