Cody Asche's two-run shot carries Phils past Braves

Cliff Lee allowed just one run in eight innings, striking out 10 and walking none. It is the 10th time he's had double-digit strikeouts.       RON CORTES / Staff
Cliff Lee allowed just one run in eight innings, striking out 10 and walking none. It is the 10th time he's had double-digit strikeouts.       RON CORTES / Staff
Posted: September 08, 2013

While the Phillies struggling season winds down, among the more pleasant developments has been the play of third baseman Cody Asche. How far he has come after batting just .192 at short-season Williamsport in 2011 is truly staggering.

Asche continued his impressive work by waking up a dormant offense with a two-run homer in the seventh inning as the Phillies defeated the Atlanta Braves, 2-1, on Friday before 37,088 at Citizens Bank Park.

He knocked in Darin Ruf, who had hit a two-out single. Asche crushed a first-pitch four-seam fastball clocked at 90-m.p.h. off lefthander Mike Minor to right-center.

"My first at-bats, he threw good pitches the first pitch, so I was looking for a strike, something to get good wood on and drive," Asche said.

After starting out 1 for 17 when recalled from triple-A Lehigh Valley, Asche is 28 for 84 (.333) with four home runs and 18 RBIs.

"He was here a couple of weeks and started finding his stroke, relaxed and let his natural abilities take over," interim manager Ryne Sandberg said of Asche. "He works very hard at all parts of the game."

A lefthanded batter, Asche is 7 for 16 (.437) with a homer and six RBIs against lefties after going 2 for 3 against Minor, who is now 13-6.

"You've got to take the same approach as you do against a righty," Asche said. "If you have never seen a guy before, you rely on other guys, watch video, see what he does, and watch other people's at-bats."

Apparently Asche is a quick study. This was the first game he was facing Minor.

He is also playing a strong third base and demonstrated this by barehanding a B.J. Upton grounder in the ninth and throwing out the fleet Braves centerfielder for the first out.

"He is a baseball player," Sandberg said of Asche. "You can't teach or practice that last play in the ninth."

While Asche has exceeded expectations, one person who has met them has been Cliff Lee.

The lefthander allowed just one run in eight innings, striking out 10 and walking none.

Lee struggled in his last outing, yielding nine hits and three runs (two earned) while earning a no-decision in five innings during a 4-3 loss to the host Chicago Cubs.

"I didn't really feel very good from the start [against Chicago]," Lee said. ". . .Tonight I definitely felt better and the results showed."

Atlanta got on the board when defensive wizard Andrelton Simmons hit a solo home run to left in the third inning, his 14th of the season.

Jonathan Papelbon allowed a two-out single to Freddie Freeman but then got Evan Gattis to end the game on a fly out to right and record his 25th save.

Afterward, Asche talked about his continual adjustment, how he is learning to cope with the pressures of playing in the big leagues.

"When you go about the game and the day the right way, you learn to control those emotions and are not putting pressure on yourself," Asche said.

"I am trying to focus on situations where you can help the team win and if you do that everything will take care of itself."


Contact Marc Narducci at mnarducci@phillynews.com. Follow @sjnard on Twitter.

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