Manuel called it "one of those days," and while the characterization was accurate, it did little to soothe Lee. The lefty seemed particularly perturbed about Chris Denorfia's steal of home, which highlighted a four-run second inning that ultimately led to his undoing.
Denorfia spent most of the last two games of this four-game series as one of those pesky ballplayers who just seems to pester a particular opponent. In the Phillies' 5-3 victory on Sunday afternoon, he robbed Raul Ibanez of a home run with a highlight-reel catch over the centerfield wall. Yesterday, he helped produce two of the Padres' four runs in the second inning, singling home Rob Johnson, advancing to second on the throw, then stealing third and home to give San Diego a 3-1 lead. Denorfia swiped home by taking advantage of Lee's pickoff move, breaking for the plate when the pitcher paused, stared at first, then threw to Ryan Howard. Howard threw home, but Denorfia slid in well ahead of the tag.
Lee said later that the pickoff play had been called by catcher Carlos Ruiz. When Lee prepared to throw to first, he saw that Jason Bartlett was close to the bag, so he tossed the ball softly to Howard.
"They gave me the pick sign, I threw it to first, he ran home," Lee said. "That's it. I saw that he wasn't running, so I threw an easier throw to first. That's the first time that's ever happened. I didn't even consider that as a possibility right there. Obviously, the next time I'm in that situation I need to make more of a firm throw to first."
The Phillies answered with two runs in the bottom of the fourth, one on an RBI triple by Domonic Brown, who then scored on a single by Ruiz. With Ruiz on first and the Phillies trailing 5-3, Manuel opted to pinch-hit for Lee, who had thrown 82 pitches while allowing five runs on 10 hits with five strikeouts and a walk in four innings. Ben Francisco ended up grounding into an inning-ending doubleplay.
"I'm never going to be happy throwing four innings," said Lee, who fell to 9-7 with a 3.05 ERA. "I gave up several hits. They scored five runs, but the competitive side of me doesn't want to come out that early in the game."
Francisco's doubleplay was one of several squandered opportunities. In the first inning, Howard was easily thrown out at home after being waved around from first on a double by Shane Victorino. In the eighth, Victorino hit a two-out triple but was stranded when Ibanez grounded out. Trailing 5-4 in the ninth, Brown drew a leadoff walk, after which Manuel opted to use Ruiz to bunt the tying run to second. Ross Gload struck out and Jimmy Rollins flied out to end the game as the Phillies fell to 64-37.
"We had [Ryan] Madson and [Antonio] Bastardo and [David] Herndon still up in our bullpen, and I was seeing if we could tie the game up first," Manuel said. "I thought that would be our best chance to win the game."
After 10 straight games against teams with losing records, the Phillies will play 10 of their next 13 against teams who entered yesterday above .500. There are seven games against the defending champion Giants, including a three-game series that starts tonight. The Phillies are 15-17 against teams with winning records this season.
Righthander Joe Blanton (elbow) is scheduled to undergo further tests on his ailing elbow today in an attempt to diagnose what has been causing the pain in the joint. Blanton already has visited renowned surgeon Dr. James Andrews, who recommended against Tommy John surgery. Blanton has made just six starts this season and is a question mark to return by the end of the year . . . Righthander Jose Contreras is scheduled to have another injection in his sore right elbow. Contreras, who was supposed to be a key component in the late innings of tight games, last pitched on June 19.
For more Phillies coverage and opinion, read David Murphy's blog, High Cheese, at www.philly.com/HighCheese. Follow him on Twitter at