Lee's rough start sinks Phillies in rubber game

Lee's rough start sinks Phillies in rubber game

Lee's rough start sinks Phillies in rubber game
PHILADELPHIA --- To some, Phillies left-handed starter Cliff Lee has run into a whole lot of bad luck to start this season. The veteran entered Sunday's game against the Red Sox with just one decision, a loss, in five starts despite a 1.95 ERA.

That said, Lee had only one place to look on Sunday after a 5-1 loss at Citizens Bank Park.

"Tonight, it was definitely my fault," said Lee, who worked seven innings but allowed five runs over the first three. "I've have to do a better job of that. I have to get deeper in the game without giving up so many runs. This one falls on me."

The Phillies (21-21) fell for the second time in as many days to Boston (20-21) in a battle of franchises that more was expected from at the start of the season. Both teams are in last place in their divisions, but both retain lofty expectations as the Phillies open a three-game set against Washington, which resides in second place of the National League East.

Before that, the Phillies have issues to fix and despite a pair of subpar starts by Joe Blanton on Saturday and -- relatively speaking -- Lee on Sunday, they can look at this weekend as a lost opportunity. The offense had opportunities, more so on Friday, but couldn't deliver in important intervals, but this day could be chalked up to the Phils' inability to get to Boston starter Josh Beckett.

Down, 5-0, in the eighth, the Phillies pushed across one run but with the bases loaded and two outs, manager Charlie Manuel stuck with Ty Wigginton against reliever Vicente Padilla. In Manuel's way of thinking, baseball is a game of percentages and despite a strong start by catcher Carlos Ruiz, who was on the bench after starting Saturday night, the percentage play was to go with Wigginton.

"I guess I would have been surprised if I didn't get to hit more than anything," said Wigginton, who has 160 career home runs to 43 for Ruiz. "That didn't cross my mind one time. So, no, it's a situation you want to be in. And [Padilla] did a good job. He kept the ball down and it had a lot of movement."

"No I didn't [think about using Ruiz]," Manuel said. "[Wigginton] has good numbers on the guy.

"I was going to let Wigginton hit there."

For the second game in as many days, shortstop Mike Aviles hit a home run to lead off the game. Aviles is the first Red Sox player to do so since Harry Hooper on May 30, 1919. Aviles also hit an RBI single in the second, and a three-run blast from Jarrod Saltalamacchia in the third, which landed on Ashburn Alley, put the Phillies in a 5-0 hole.

"It was definitely fun," Aviles said. "I'm just going up there trying to set the tone, trying to get on base and fortunate to get a ball and run into a good part of the bat, pretty much, and get one up in the air."

Lee allowed nine hits over seven innings, throwing 112 pitches in the process. He struck out six and walked one before handing the reigns to rookie reliever Jake Diekman, who struck out the side in the eighth on a mere 11 pitches.

A day after the picked up 15 hits, the Phillies did not have as much luck against Beckett, who allowed one run on seven hits in 7 2/3 innings. Philadelphia mustered seven hits, two of which came from Hunter Pence, but were 1-for-9 with runners in scoring position.

"It's nice to keep the ball in the ballpark, that's for sure," said Beckett, who improved to 4-4. "Just make pitches when you need to. Like I said, they had a couple situations where they could've gotten back in the game. I feel like I made some good pitches and some guys made some good plays."

Something the Phillies failed to do on this day, but will need to over the next month as their schedule becomes significantly more difficult.

"Every team is capable of beating any team on any given day," Lee said. "For us, it's about playing fundamental baseball and executing the right way. If we do that, we can beat anyone. If we don't, anyone can beat us. To me, it boils down to that.

"We haven't been as consistent as we'd like to be and our record shows it. When we play fundamentally sound, execute and do things the right way, we win."

Michael Radano is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.