"I felt like I threw a lot of strikes, and my ball was up a little bit, more than I would like," said Lee (1-1), "but I feel like I have to tip my hat to them. They just swung the bat well, and that's that. I walked one guy, hit a guy, but other than that, they earned every run they got."
The pivotal blow came in the fourth inning, when Chipper Jones stepped to the plate with the bases loaded and hit a first-pitch cutter to deep centerfield. Shane Victorino caught up to the fly ball, but the ball bounced in and out of his glove as he tried to make the catch on a dead sprint. Three runs scored on what was ruled a double, giving the Braves a 6-3 lead.
Afterward, Victorino said he should have made the play, but that he overestimated the track of the ball.
"I had a good read and I kind of overran the ball," said Victorino, who went 2-for-4 with a run and an RBI at the plate. "I thought he hit the ball a little more true to the pull side, and it had more of a run back on me. Am I frustrated about it? Yeah. But what can I do? If it hits my glove, I obviously want to catch it. I'm not happy."
The Phillies had a chance to strike back in the top of the fifth, but with one out and the bases loaded, Ryan Howard hit a check-swing grounder back to the mound, starting an inning ending 1-2-3 doubleplay.
Braves first baseman Freddie Freeman robbed Wilson Valdez of an RBI single with two out in the sixth, making a leaping snag of a sharp line drive with Ben Francisco running on contact.
It wasn't the first time Lee had struggled against the Braves. During his first stint with the Phillies, Atlanta hit three homers and scored six runs in five innings while handing the lefty a 9-1 loss on Aug. 29.
"I'd like to go pitch to them again right now, but I can't do that," Lee said. "Now I've got to get ready for the Nationals, and from there the next team. You can't pick and choose who you pitch to. They've got a great offense and they swung the bat well. I've got to do a better job of mixing up my pitches a little more and keeping the ball down."
But the pitching news wasn't all bad. Lefty reliever Antonio Bastardo turned in a brilliant performance, striking out six consecutive batters after allowing a single to Jones at the start of the sixth. Bastardo mowed through the heart of the Braves' order, striking out Brian McCann on a 94 mph fastball, Dan Uggla on a slider, Jason Heyward on a slider, Alex Gonzalez on a 95 mph fastball, Freddie Freeman on a slider, and Tim Hudson on a 94 mph fastball.
The six straight strikeouts - all of them swinging - tied the Phillies record for a reliever, set first by Jack Meyer in 1958 and then equalled by Willie Herandez in 1983.
"He did a good job," Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said. "Like I said 2 days ago, when you pitch like that, it shows a sign that you've got a chance to turn the corner. He's getting better. He's getting big-league hitters out."
For more Phillies coverage and opinion, read David Murphy's blog, High Cheese, at www.philly.com/HighCheese. Follow him on Twitter at