Lee does it all in Phillies win

Cliff Lee hit his second home run of the season in the seventh inning. (Jae C. Hong/AP Photo)
Cliff Lee hit his second home run of the season in the seventh inning. (Jae C. Hong/AP Photo)
Posted: August 10, 2011

LOS ANGELES - Charlie Manuel arrived at Dodger Stadium about 11 a.m. Tuesday, some eight hours before his Phillies won for the eighth time on this trip, beating Los Angeles, 2-1.

That's actually an hour later than normal, Manuel said. The manager of the best team in baseball has found ways to fill time at the ballpark.

"Mess around," Manuel said. "Walk. Do my lineup. Check the stock market."

On nights when Cliff Lee pitches, Manuel need not worry about much else beyond his declining investments. Managing Lee requires little thought. Manuel can hand his lefthander the ball, sit back, and watch excellence unfold without even flinching.

Lee dominated in eight scoreless innings. He struck out at least 10 batters for the eighth time this season.

And he provided an insurance run for himself with one swing, launching a home run deep into the California night.

The end result was a pat on the back from Manuel, the sign of ultimate respect on a night when Lee commanded nothing less.

Now, the Phillies are 36 games over .500, the franchise's high-water mark since the conclusion of the 1977 season. With a victory Wednesday, the Phils can achieve their best 10-game trip in club history at 9-1. They have won eight consecutive series on the road.

With 46 games to play, the Phillies are on pace for 106 wins. The team record is 101.

The only thing missing from Tuesday's game was Lee's finishing it, but 124 pitches through eight innings prevented that. He started the eighth at 106 pitches, and an economical inning could have made Manuel rethink his plan, but that wasn't necessary.

Los Angeles' lone run was surrendered by Ryan Madson, who still nailed down his 21st save of the season. Nonetheless, it was supremacy of the highest order for Lee.

He is the first Phillies pitcher since Randy Wolf in 2004 to have two or more home runs in a season. Lee has as many home runs off a lefthanded pitcher as Ryan Howard. It will take a gargantuan effort to catch Rick Wise, who went deep six times in 1971, and holds the team record for a pitcher.

With a 2-0 count and the bases empty in the seventh inning of a one-run game, Los Angeles lefty Ted Lilly did not challenge Lee with a fastball.

Instead, he threw an 81-m.p.h. change-up on the outside edge that Lee demolished, driving it over the right-field fence. It was no Matt Stairs moon shot, but Lee savored every moment of his trot around the bases as Dodgers fans screamed incredulously and the scattered Phillies fans reveled.

Lee often has said that one of the reasons he embraced a return to Philadelphia was the chance to play in the National League. He takes great pride in his hitting, and his .226 batting average is evidence.

He celebrated in the dugout with catcher Carlos Ruiz, who might actually enjoy watching one of his pitchers smash a long ball rather than complete a game.

On the mound, Lee was even better after overcoming early danger. The first two Dodgers he faced reached base. And once Dee Gordon and Jamey Carroll got on, they both stole bases. But Lee retired the next 12 he faced, beginning with strikeouts of Andre Ethier and Matt Kemp on nasty change-ups, and a foul pop-up off the bat of Aaron Miles.

In 17 innings on this trip, Lee held the opposition scoreless.

He struck out 18 and allowed one extra-base hit. He's at another level, much like his mind-blowing June.

After he crossed home plate on his triumphant trot, Lee rubbed his hands together and smiled. Indeed, the stuff of magic.

Contact staff writer Matt Gelb at mgelb@phillynews.com or @magelb on Twitter.

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