Shane Victorino homers to support the Philadelphia lefty, who beat Boston to extend his scoreless streak to 32 innings
POSTED: 01:30 a.m. HST, Jun 29, 2011
LAST UPDATED: 01:56 a.m. HST, Jun 29, 2011
PHILADELPHIA » Cliff Lee has a simple explanation for his brilliant pitching.
“I’m making pitches, staying out of the zone, using my breaking ball and getting lucky,” Lee said, downplaying his recent success.
Lee tossed a two-hitter for his third consecutive shutout and the Philadelphia Phillies beat Josh Beckett and the Boston Red Sox 5-0 Tuesday night.
In a series hailed as a potential World Series preview, Lee (9-5) and the Phillies dominated the opener.
Domonic Brown and Maui’s Shane Victorino each hit a two-run homer for Philadelphia, which improved its major league-leading record to 50-30.
Lee didn’t allow a hit until Marco Scutaro led off the sixth with a line-drive single to left-center. He ran his career-best scoreless streak to 32 innings with his ninth career shutout and fourth this year.
“It’s been a good run, no doubt about it,” Lee said. “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.”
Beckett (6-3) gave up five runs in six innings, his worst outing of the season. Beckett entered with a major league-best 1.86 ERA and left at 2.20. He hadn’t pitched because of the flu since tossing a one-hitter against Tampa Bay on June 15.
Darnell McDonald led off the eighth with a double to left, putting Lee’s shutout bid in jeopardy. But shortstop Jimmy Rollins made an outstanding play on Jason Varitek’s hard one-hopper up the middle for the first out. Lee then fanned Mike Cameron looking at a slow curve and retired Scutaro on a grounder to third.
Lee finished with five strikeouts and two walks. The lefty was 4-5 with a 3.94 ERA through May. Since then, he’s 5-0 with a 0.21 ERA in five starts.
Lee threw a two-hitter against Florida on June 16 and blanked St. Louis on six hits June 22. He needed 112 pitches Tuesday night.
“He’s one of the best pitchers in the game, and he’s riding a hot streak. That is a bad combination for any team to face,” Red Sox manager Terry Francona said. “I haven’t seen all of his starts, but from what I have seen, he’s been quite impressive. He’s working counts, and he’s throwing strikes when he has to. He’s really got it going right now.”
Lee received several ovations from the 180th straight sellout, including postseason play, at Citizens Bank Park.
Brown gave the Phillies a 2-0 lead when he connected with two outs in the second.
Brown came in slumping. He was 4-for-34 in his previous 10 games and got a scolding from manager Charlie Manuel after not hustling out a grounder Saturday night against Oakland.
Brown got things started in the fifth with a leadoff double to left. He advanced to third on Carlos Ruiz’s deep fly to right-center and scored on Lee’s sacrifice fly to make it 3-0. Lee, a good-hitting pitcher, has five RBIs in his past eight games.
Victorino put the Phillies up 5-0 in the sixth. He drove a 3-1 pitch into the seats in right for his ninth homer.