Phillies-Blue Jays Preview

Cliff Lee may not have gotten off to the rousing start expected

after returning to the Philadelphia Phillies during the

offseason.

His recent run has more than made up for it.

Lee could become the first pitcher in more than 22 years to fire

four consecutive shutouts Sunday at Rogers Centre as Philadelphia

seeks its first sweep of the Toronto Blue Jays.

Lee (9-5, 2.66 ERA) was 4-5 with a 3.94 ERA through his first 11

starts before winning all five of his outings in June, giving up

one run in 42 innings. His scoreless innings streak is up to 32

after a 5-0 victory Tuesday over Boston marked his third straight

shutout.

No pitcher has had four in a row since the Los Angeles Dodgers’

Orel Hershiser threw five consecutive from Sept. 5-23, 1988. Prior

to this streak, Lee had thrown only one shutout in his previous 37

starts including the playoffs.

“It’s been a good run, no doubt about it,” Lee said after

allowing two hits Tuesday. “I’ve had a few in my career, but I

don’t look back and compare them. I want to throw a shutout every

time out there. I never want to give up a run.”

He allowed only one run in his last start against the Blue Jays

on July 21, 2009, tossing a complete game in a 2-1 victory while

pitching for Cleveland.

The Phillies (53-31), who have won five of their last six and 16

of 22, are looking for their first sweep of Toronto in 12 series

between the teams since the start of interleague play.

Former Blue Jay Roy Halladay went the distance and Chase Utley

hit a go-ahead two-run homer Saturday in Philadelphia’s 5-3

victory.

Frustrations boiled over in the ninth inning as Blue Jays

reliever Jon Rauch and manager John Farrell were ejected after

Shane Victorino singled home Utley. Ryan Howard drew a two-out walk

on a borderline pitch in the previous at-bat.

“The first thing I told the umpire is it’s a shame that he can’t

have an ERA, because those runs are his,” Rauch said. “I think he

directly affected the outcome of the game.”

Jose Bautista hit his 26th home run in the loss, the fourth in

five games for the Blue Jays (40-44). The slugger is ahead of his

pace from last season’s 54-homer campaign, reaching No. 26 in his

76th game after it took 93 in 2010.

Bautista is hitting .353 with five homers in his last 10 games

and is near the top of the AL with a .330 average. However, he’s 1

for 5 lifetime against Lee.

Jo-Jo Reyes (3-7, 4.77) will be on the hill Sunday looking for

his first career victory against Philadelphia. The left-hander is

0-3 with a 6.45 ERA in four starts versus the Phillies.

Reyes has lost his last two outings, getting tagged for 10 runs

and 14 hits in nine innings. He failed to pitch past the fourth

inning for the fifth time in 16 starts Tuesday in a 7-6 loss to

Pittsburgh.