Phils can't solve Lester, Sox in shutout

Phils can't solve Lester, Sox in shutout

PHILADELPHIA -- They met in 2002, when Jamie Moyer was an established starting pitcher for the Mariners and Jon Lester an impressionable high school senior at Bellarmine Prep in Tacoma, Wash.

Arranged by Seattle's groundskeeper, who knew the Lester family, something about the kid struck Moyer.

"He was a big, left-handed kid," Moyer said. "I heard he was a good pitcher. Shortly after I met him, he got drafted by the Red Sox."

And shortly after that, in 2006, the hard-throwing southpaw debuted for Boston. Moyer casually followed the kid's career through the Minor Leagues and rooted hard for him to beat non-Hodgkin's lymphoma.

On Tuesday, Moyer saw for himself how good the kid had become. A day after the Phillies pounded the defending World Series champions, Lester silenced their bats in a 3-0 win at Citizens Bank Park.

In his fifth start since no-hitting the Royals on May 19, Lester scattered the six singles over seven shutout innings, though he needed a double play from Carlos Ruiz to escape potential trouble in the second. Lester walked one and struck out five. Hideki Okajima and Jonathan Papelbon did the rest, with Papelbon fanning the side in the ninth.

"He threw the ball well," Moyer said. "It was the first time I've seen him pitch in person. He made it here rather quickly. I tip my hat to the guy. He's battled through cancer. He's an inspiration and he's getting what he deserves. If he can keep his health, he's going to have a long career. He's a fine pitcher."

So fine that he defeated Moyer, a pitcher who hadn't lost since May 10 in San Francisco, nine days before Lester's no-hitter. Moyer entered the game in a groove, having posted a 1.35 ERA in his previous two outings, including eight shutout innings on Thursday against Florida.

Moyer had been 5-0 in his past five decisions, and the Phillies had won his previous six starts, outscoring opponents, 56-18. With uncharacteristic wildness, the veteran lefty walked a season-high five. The Red Sox got to him in the second when Coco Crisp smacked a two-run homer.

"Their game plan was to make him throw the ball over the plate and work the count," manager Charlie Manuel said. "They were very patient with him."

Asked if he felt Boston was forcing him to throw more strikes, Moyer deferred.

"I forced myself to," Moyer said. "I didn't have good command tonight, especially in the first three innings. That was the worst command I've have in a long time. That was the difference in the game. It started to come back in the fourth and the fifth."

By then, Moyer had amassed 106 pitches, and was lifted for Ryan Madson, who allowed Boston's third run in the sixth.

"If you got the stuff that I feature, and don't have command, it's not conducive for a quality outing," said Moyer, who fell to 6-12 in his career against Boston. "Without command for me, it makes it a difficult night."

Lester made it difficult for the Phillies, moving his mid 90s fastball around and mixing in his offspeed pitches.

"He was very aggressive with his cutter," Shane Victorino said. "He was around the zone and wasn't afraid to throw his pitches, different pitches in different counts."

That combination wasn't good for Philadelphia's struggling hitters. Ryan Howard, who had hit .500 in his past four games, whiffed four times. Chase Utley went 0-for-4 to run his hitless streak to 0-for-16.

With the series finale on Wednesday, the Phillies must win to avoid losing their third straight series.

"We need to take each game for what it is," Moyer said. "We've got to find a way to play well, to play consistently. We're over .500, we're being chased, but there's a lot of baseball left. We don't need to look behind us. We need to look ahead of us and continue to play good baseball."

Ken Mandel is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.