W: Lee (1-0, 0.00 ERA) L: Medlen (0-1, 3.60 ERA) SV: Papelbon (1)
Cliff Lee had to wait until July 4, 2012 to pick up his first elusive victory of the 2012 season. This year Lee had to wait under three hours. The Phillies starter was impressive in his first outing of the 2013 season and made sure the team left Atlanta on a positive note after dropping the first two games of the season. Lee pitched eight shutout innings and Jonathan Papelbon picked up the save as the Phillies avoided a three-game sweep with a 2-0 victory.
The Phillies even gave Lee an early lead to work with by scoring both of their runs in the second inning. Atlanta had not lost a game started by Kris Medlen in 26 games dating back to last season, but the Phillies offense made Medlen work in the second inning. The bottom of the line-up fueled the charge with Laynce Nix and Erik Kratz each reaching base and Lee drawing a walk to load the bases. Ben Revere grounded in to what should have been a double play but Braves second baseman Dan Uggla was unable to make a throw to first base with Lee sliding in to second. Nix scored on the play and Kratz would score on a sacrifice fly by Chase Utley for the 2-0 lead.
Game over for Atlanta.
"It seemed to me the last three innings he got even better," Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said after the game about Lee. "He was clicking. Good tempo. Good rhythm. He was in sync. He used his pitches, man. That's a typical Cliff Lee game."
"The first couple of innings, they battled pretty good," Lee said. "I threw 40-some pitches in the first two innings. They forced me to throw more pitches. I got into some deep counts and fouled off some balls. To get eight innings after the first two innings, I was pleased with that. I felt strong the whole time. I was just throwing strikes, getting ahead in the count, make them swing their way on base and let the defense make plays."
Cliff Lee was locked in. Lee struck out eight batters and allowed just two hits in eight full innings on 106 pitches in his season debut. The pitcher also worked a count at the plate to draw a walk.
Jonathan Papelbon picked up his first save of the season, striking out two Braves batters in an 11-pitch save opportunity.
Jimmy Rollins led the way on offense by going 2-for-4 and a stolen base and a walk.
Ryan Howard picked up his first base hit of the season and left five runners on base.
Michael Young went 0-for-3 but did walk once.
The Phillies left 14 batters on the bases, which has been a somewhat disturbing trend following this team, but when the team picks up the first win of the season it feels somewhat wrong to be too nitpicky.
National League East Update
The Miami Marlins picked up their first run of the season to avoid entering some unwanted history but the Washington Nationals improved to 3-0 with a 6-1 victory. Jordan Zimmerman picked up the win and Jayson Werth had a game-high three RBIs as the top of the Nationals line-up got the job done Thursday in D.C.
The New York Mets took their first loss of the season, losing at home to the San Diego Padres 2-1. Mets second baseman Justin Turner had three hits in the game and John Buck hit a solo home run for the only offensive highlights for the Mets. The Nationals now take sole possession of first place in the NL East after the first three games of the season. The Phillies are two games behind the defending division champions.
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The Phillies open their home schedule this afternoon at Citizens Bank Park with some interleague action. The Phillies will send Kyle Kendrick to the mound for the home opener assignment to take on the AL Central's Kansas City Royals. Kendrick had a rough spring, going 1-3 with a 6.88 ERA. He will be opposed by righty Wade Davis, who was 4-0 with a 1.29 ERA in spring training.
The Phillies and Royals faced each other in the 1980 World Series of course, but in the interleague era of Major League Baseball the two teams have faced each other in just six games. The Phillies visited Kansas City for three games in 2007 (John Lieber picking up the one win the Phillies managed). The Royals will make their second appearance in Citizens Bank Park after visiting the new ballpark in 2004 for three games.
Quotes provided by MLB.com.