Lee was good, but Lowe was better

Cliff Lee had 16 strikeouts in seven innings against the Atlanta Braves - but gave up three runs in the third and lost, 5-0, at Citizens Bank Park.
Cliff Lee had 16 strikeouts in seven innings against the Atlanta Braves - but gave up three runs in the third and lost, 5-0, at Citizens Bank Park. (MICHAEL BRYANT / Staff Photographer)

The Phillies lefthander had 16 strikeouts - but he also gave up 3 runs while his own team managed just 2 hits.

Posted: May 07, 2011

The way Cliff Lee was dealing, it was going to take an extraordinary effort to get the best of the Phillies lefthander.

This was one of those occasions when the Atlanta Braves obliged.

Even though Lee struck out a career-high 16 batters in seven innings, he and the Phillies suffered a 5-0 loss Friday night at Citizens Bank Park to the suddenly hot Braves.

Lee's effort was wasted because the Phillies' bats went dormant with just two hits against Derek Lowe and three Braves relievers.

It didn't take long for the Phils, coming off a three-game sweep of Washington, to realize that the Nationals no longer were in town.

Lowe immediately got the Phillies' attention by pitching six no-hit innings to start the game. During that stretch, the only Phillie to reach base was Ben Francisco, who drew a walk in the second inning.

So all Lee's strikeouts were in vain.

"Honest, I am not too worried about strikeouts. It's another way to get hitters out," Lee said. ". . . Lowe pitched a great game and we didn't score, so you have to give credit to their pitchers."

Shane Victorino's opposite-field single to left to lead off the seventh inning broke up the no-hitter. Placido Polanco followed with a ground-rule double, putting runners on second and third. Not only was the no-hitter gone, so was Lowe.

Lowe, who threw a no-hitter against Tampa Bay on April 27, 2002, as a member of the Boston Red Sox, was replaced by lefthander Eric O'Flaherty after Polanco's double.

As it turned out, Lowe didn't think he had a realistic chance at a no-hitter. He said he developed a blister on his right foot in the fifth inning and was just hanging on.

"The no-hitter wasn't going to happen unless they hit the ball at guys," Lowe said. "The blister was really starting to bother me, and in the sixth inning they hit balls at guys and I got away with some mistakes."

All O'Flaherty did was strike out the next three batters - Ryan Howard, Francisco, and Raul Ibanez.

"You have to tip your cap to O'Flaherty," Victorino said.

As if the Phillies don't have enough injuries to deal with, Polanco left the game with a bruise on his right big toe. The X-rays found no breaks.

The Phillies also announced after the game that Roy Oswalt would be placed on the disabled list, retroactive to April 27, with lower back inflammation. Righthander Scott Mathieson will be recalled from Lehigh Valley.

Lee walked only one batter, consistently frustrating the Braves with that 16-to-1 strikeout-to-walk ratio. It was the most strikeouts by a Phillies pitcher since Curt Schilling punched out 16 New York Yankees on Sept. 1, 1997.

This was almost a feast-or-famine night against Lee, who surrendered nine hits. He threw 117 pitches, 87 for strikes.

The Braves struck for three runs in the third inning, although Lee deserved a better fate. Chipper Jones lined a two-out RBI single off the glove of a leaping Jimmy Rollins. It was scored a hit, but it appeared to be a catchable ball for Rollins, a three-time Gold Glove winner.

Jones knocked in Alex Gonzalez, who began the rally with a double to left that just missed leaving the yard.

After Jones singled, Brian McCann and Dan Uggla followed with consecutive RBI doubles.

"They got four two-out hits and they were aggressive and didn't see many pitches, and I made some mistakes over the plate and they hit them," Lee said.

The Braves added two runs in the ninth inning off Danys Baez on RBI singles by Martin Prado and Gonzalez.

Phillies One-Game Strikeout Leaders

18 - Chris Short, Oct. 2, 1965, at Mets*

17 - Art Mahaffey, April 23, 1961, vs. Cubs

16 - Steve Carlton, June 9, 1982, vs. Cubs

16 - Curt Schilling, Sept. 1, 1997, vs. Yankees

16 - Cliff Lee, May 6, 2011, vs. Braves

*15 innings


Contact staff writer Marc Narducci at 856-779-3225 or mnarducci@phillynews.com. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/sjnard



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