ST. LOUIS (AP) — Cliff Lee approaches every start aiming to go nine innings. The St. Louis Cardinals put up little resistance in the left-hander’s second straight shutout.
“There’s total gratification,” Lee said. “Every time I want to throw the whole game, there’s no doubt about it. I think I could have gone the 10th and the 11th, too.”
Lee scattered six hits and the Philadelphia Phillies got homers from Jimmy Rollins and Ryan Howard in the fourth inning of a 4-0 victory Wednesday night.
The Cardinals have totaled two runs and 11 hits in their first two games without injured Albert Pujols, who is expected to miss six weeks with a fractured left wrist. It didn’t help that they have faced two of the game’s best, with Roy Halladay giving up four hits in six innings Tuesday.
“He’s arguably the best player in the National League,” Lee said of Pujols. “He’s an obvious threat and anytime he’s not in the lineup you feel better about that when you’re the opposing pitcher.”
Kyle Lohse (7-4) worked eight innings to match his season best, allowing three runs and seven hits with no walks or strikeouts. He struggled only in the fourth when Rollins led off with his seventh homer and Howard hit a two-run shot and his 16th overall with one out following a single by Chase Utley.
Lohse said he had to alter his game plan because strikes on the inside corner weren’t getting called. He thought he had Rollins struck out a few pitches before giving up the homer.
“I kind of fell behind Howard and he was looking away and I left the ball up,” Lohse said. “Other than that, I felt like I was in control. It was just an unfortunate night to be going against Lee.”
Utley added an eighth-inning sacrifice fly for the NL East-leading Phillies, who have won 10 of 12 and will go for a three-game sweep on Thursday with Roy Oswalt facing Chris Carpenter.
Howard, who grew up in suburban St. Louis and still lives there, also singled and is a career .374 hitter with nine homers and 34 RBIs in 25 games at Busch Stadium. Both are highs for visiting players at the 6-year-old ballpark and the homer broke a tie with Adam Dunn and Prince Fielder.
“It’s home, I think it’s a little bit different when a guy gets to go back home and play where it all began,” Howard said. “You’re just a lot more comfortable, I guess.”
Lee (8-5) has won all four of his starts this month, allowing only one run in 33 innings while lowering his ERA from 3.94 to 2.87. The 2008 AL Cy Young winner followed a two-hitter over Florida with his eighth career shutout and has a 23-inning scoreless streak.
Leaning on his cutter, Lee retired 11 straight between the third and seventh inning and threw a career-high 126 pitches. Only Lohse reached third base after hitting a leadoff double off a curveball in the third for his first extra-base hit of the season.
“He threw the ball well all night as advertised,” said Cardinals leadoff man Ryan Theriot, who had a single and walk. “You know what you’re going to get. I thought we had a few little chances there, but Cliff’s a great pitcher and that’s what he does.”
Lee is 6-1 since losing 3-1 at St. Louis on May 16 when he walked a career-high six in 6 1-3 innings. He opened this game with seven straight balls before settling in, and made a nice leaping stab on Pete Kozma’s grounder up the middle to help keep the Cardinals off the board in the third.
Including the loss at St. Louis in May, Lee had been 0-3 with a 5.84 ERA in his four previous road starts.
“That’s just someone breaking down stats and nitpicking little things,” Lee said. “To me, it doesn’t matter if I pitch at home or on the road. It’s all the same.”
NOTES: The Cardinals turned a season-high four double plays. … It was the longest outing of Lohse’s career without a strikeout or walk. … Both Howard and Rollins have four homers this month. All 16 of Howard’s homers are against right-handed pitchers. … The Phillies’ 10-2 victory Tuesday was only the franchise’s second in the last 66 years scoring double-digit runs without an extra-base hit. The other time was on Sept. 17, 2005, at Florida. … Howard is 7 for 16 with two homers and eight RBIs against Lohse. … Utley has 12 RBIs in the last 10 games. … Shane Victorino has a 16-game hitting streak against the Cardinals, batting .368 (25 for 68) with four homers and 13 RBIs.
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