Cliff Lee finally earns first win
Cliff Lee was savoring a most elusive win when Roy Halladay and Cole Hamels sneaked up behind him, giving their fellow Phillies ace a Gatorade bath.
Now that was one early shower Lee could enjoy.
Lee finally posted his first victory of the season and Philadelphia hit three late homers, breaking past the New York Mets 9-2 Wednesday and stopping a six-game losing streak.
”Got a win, Fourth of July. Good for Cliff,” manager Charlie Manuel said.
Lee (1-5) had gone a puzzling 13 starts this year without a victory, a key reason the five-time NL East champions have fallen far behind. The lefty hadn’t been awful, nor had he consistently shown good command.
”I would’ve loved to have a win a long time ago,” Lee said, adding the slump was a bigger deal to others than to him.
”I wouldn’t say it doesn’t matter, but it’s something I can’t control,” he said. ”Sometimes, weird things happen.”
If anything, he said, he’s been disappointed ”because I’ve let innings snowball.” That happened in his previous outing at Miami, his poorest start of the season.
Manuel said Lee’s teammates kidded and joked with him after he broke his hex. Lee’s jersey and uniform pants were soaked when he returned to the clubhouse.
”That was good,” Lee told Halladay.
Chase Utley and Carlos Ruiz hit consecutive home runs in the seventh inning as the Phillies rallied from a 2-0 deficit. Ty Wigginton’s two-run homer in the ninth capped the surge.
Facing the Mets for the fourth time this season, Lee came out sharp and struck out three of the first four batters. He wound up going eight innings and struck out nine, most of them looking.
”He pretty much dominated us today,” Mets star David Wright said.
Lee’s drought was the longest by a former Cy Young winner since Greg Maddux went 14 starts without a win in 2008 with San Diego — the worst skid for a Cy winner was 19 starts by Fernando Valenzuela in 1988-89, STATS LLC said.
Lee seemed as if he might wind up in the loss column again after the Phillies managed just two singles in the first six innings against Chris Young (2-2). Juan Pierre led off the seventh with a sharp single and Utley followed with a tying drive into the right-field seats, his second homer since missing nearly three months because of knee trouble.
Ruiz, set to play in his first All-Star game, then put the Phillies ahead by connecting for the second straight day, hitting his 13th home run.
That was plenty for Lee on this afternoon.
”Once they took the lead, we saw a different side of him,” said Mets catcher Mike Nickeas, who fanned twice. ”He’s one of the better ones in the game. He was tremendous today.”
Philadelphia pulled away with a three-run eighth and a three-run ninth against the Mets’ bullpen. Jimmy Rollins doubled home a run, Ruiz hit an RBI single and Wigginton hustled home from second on Hunter Pence’s single off shortstop Ruben Tejada’s glove in the eighth.
Rollins added an RBI grounder and Wigginton homered the next inning.
Phillies closer Jonathan Papelbon made his first appearance in a week and pitched the ninth.
”Make sure we nailed that one down,” Manuel said, smiling.
The six straight losses matched the Phillies’ longest slump of the season. They also had lost seven in a row on the road.
A day after routing Philadelphia, the Mets lost for the second time in seven games.
Scott Hairston put the Mets ahead with a solo homer in the fourth, lining an 0-2 pitch over the left-field wall. As Hairston rounded the bases, Lee scuffed at the dirt and looked out toward center field, where a replay of the pitch was playing on the videoboard.
The Mets, as they’ve done all season, strung together some two-hits and made it 2-0 in the fifth. Wright drove in the run with a single.
NOTES: RHP Jeremy Hefner gave up five hits and three runs in 1 1-3 innings and was optioned to Triple-A Buffalo after the game. … Utley’s sixth homer at Citi Field matched Raul Ibanez for the most by a visiting player at the ballpark. … Pierre stole his 20th base, the 12th straight year he’s reached the mark. His 574th career swipe tied Hugh Duffy for 22nd place. … Mets OF Kirk Nieuwenhuis didn’t play. He was a late scratch from the lineup the previous day after hurting his right hand while swinging in batting practice. He said his hand was feeling better. … Mets knuckleballer R.A. Dickey goes for his 11th straight win on Thursday night vs. Hamels. Dickey leads the majors with 12 victories. … Phillies 1B Ryan Howard (left Achilles) was set to have a day off with Triple-A Lehigh Valley in his rehabilitation assignment. He homered Tuesday night.