LOS ANGELES (AP) — Cliff Lee gave the Dodgers a good lesson in what has made him a dominant pitcher: masterful control.
Lee scattered four hits over eight innings, struck out 10 and retired 21 of his last 22 batters to lead the Philadelphia Phillies to a 7-0 victory.
The 2008 AL Cy Young Award winner has 38 strikeouts and two walks through his first five starts, after leading the majors in strikeout to-walk ratio and fewest walks per nine innings during each of the previous two seasons.
“That’s definitely something I take pride in,” Lee said. “I really focus a lot on working ahead in the count and trying to make them earn their way on base. I’ve made a conscious effort over the past few years to make that one of my priorities and it’s going to continue to be that way.”
It was the fifth time Lee has had at least 10 Ks against the Dodgers and, this time, a number of their hitters were griping about umpire Hunter Wendelstedt’s strike zone.
“It’s a good thing for me when they’re complaining about called strikes. I don’t see how that can be a bad thing for me,” Lee said. “I know they did complain a lot on a lot of called, and that’s fine with me.”
Carlos Ruiz hit a two-run homer and a two-run double and Ryan Howard also went deep in the opener of a four-game series against the defending NL West champions.
Lee (3-2) had at least one strikeout in every inning he pitched and did not walk a batter, giving way to Jeff Manship after 113 pitches.
Left-hander Paul Maholm (0-2) gave up five runs and eight hits over five innings and committed a throwing error in the fifth that gave the Phillies an unearned run.
“It was frustrating just going through a long first inning, battling, not having your stuff, and doing everything possible to get deep into the game,” Maholm said. “The bullpen needed a rest and unfortunately I didn’t give it to them.”
Maholm used 29 of his 107 pitches to get out of the first after a leadoff walk to Tony Gwynn Jr. Jimmy Rollins followed with a bloop single to right-center. Matt Kemp slowed up on the catchable ball when he saw right fielder Yasiel Puig coming hard. Both runners scored on Ruiz’s double into the right field corner.
“That was huge. An early lead is definitely good for the pitcher,” Lee said.
Puig tried to get one of the runs back in the bottom of the inning, but ran into an out trying to score from second on an infield hit up the middle by Adrian Gonzalez that extended his hitting streak to 16 games.
Second baseman Chase Utley fielded the ball behind the bag and looked straight at Puig, who ended up in a rundown. Catcher Ruiz took the throw and chased Puig back to third before making a lunging tag for the third out with Kemp on deck.
“That’s definitely advanced. That just shows that he’s one step ahead of the game and a prime example of what kind of player he is,” Lee said. “Maybe he could have gotten the guy at first, but he had a pretty good idea of how Puig was going to be running the bases — and he was dead-on. He was aggressively rounding third and he was going to go all the way home. But Chase anticipated that and got him out.”
The Dodgers got only one more hit over the next 6 2-3 innings — a leadoff single in the second by Kemp, who entered 1 for 15 against Lee with nine strikeouts. Lee retired the next 20 batters before Tim Federowicz singled with two out in the eighth.
The Phillies made it 5-0 with a three-run fifth. Howard hit his fifth of the season one pitch after a two-out walk to Ruiz. John Mayberry Jr. singled and scored when Maholm threw the ball over Gonzalez’s head at first base after fielding a tapper to the right of the mound by Freddy Galvis.
NOTES: The Dodgers dedicated their training room and named it in honor of Dr. Frank Jobe, the team’s longtime physician who died March 6 at age 88. On hand for the pregame ceremony was Tommy John, whose career was extended 14 years by Jobe with the elbow ligament-replacement surgery he developed and has become commonplace in baseball. … Clayton Kershaw came out of Sunday’s simulated game without incident and will throw a bullpen session Tuesday as a prelude to a possible minor league rehab start later in the week. … The Dodgers have committed 21 errors through their first 20 games.
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