Lately, Phillies manager Charlie Manuel has used almost as many lineup combinations as there are ways to order a Philly cheesesteak. But on Saturday night, the Phillies excelled at three things they’ve acquired a knack for: winning games, pitching well and not scoring runs.
After walking a career-high six batters in his previous start, and the offense further displaying effects of a funk, Lee rebounded with a 2-0 shutout performance as the lefty improved his masterful interleague record to 16-3 in 27 starts and the Phillies improved to 28-17.
With Lee dealing and Ryan Madson developing into a go-to closer, two runs were all that would be needed on this night. Lee went eight innings against his former team, allowing just five hits and striking out 10 for his first win since April 14. Aggressive, challenging hitters and moving the ball well in all spots near the plate, Lee was outstanding. The highlight of his start came in the fifth inning when he struck out the side and needed just 10 pitches to make it happen. Madson made it count in the ninth, colleting his ninth save in as many tries.
In Philadelphia’s latest version of “How the Lineup Looks”, Carlos Ruiz hit out of the No.6 hole for only the third time in his career and the Phillies inserted rookie outfielder Domonic Brown into the lineup. Making his season debut, however, Brown couldn’t spark the offense and struggled in his first big league action of the season, going 0-for-4 and finishing with two strikeouts, including leaving the bases loaded in the fifth. But, with the “end of the world” mularkey swirling, the news wasn’t all somber for the Phillies’ offense.
For the first time in a week (but really, it’s felt like 2 months), the Phillies eclipsed the 6-hit barrier and Ryan Howard erased his 0-for-23 slump early. The big guy blasted a Colby Lewis 1-1 fastball into the right field seats for a solo homer to lead off the bottom of the second inning, erasing his career-worst hitless drought. The Phillies scored their second and ultimately final run of the game in the bottom of the sixth on John Mayberry’s two-out RBI single. Philly finished with eight hits in the game, their highest output in eight games, but have managed to plate only 15 runs over the last eight games. They’re 3-5 over that span. The Phillies’ streak of scoring three runs or less in a game has now reached eight straight.
Lee and Halladay have each gone eight innings on consecutive nights and ended their evenings by handing things off to Madson. Meanwhile, for the Rangers they know too well the offensive frustrations the Phillies are dealing with. Lewis gave up two runs and scattered seven hits in 6 2/3 innings, but received no run support. The Rangers have scored only 11 runs over the past five games and have lost four of five in that time frame.
Philadelphia aims for the sweep on Sunday afternoon, counting on Roy Oswalt to finish off Texas, while the Rangers will turn to Matt Harrison to salvage the series and avoid the sweep.