But Lee eventually blew a four-run lead before left-hander Jeremy Horst allowed the game-winning run to score in the ninth inning in a 5-4 loss to the Brewers. The loss snapped the Phillies' five-game winning streak to drop them to 31-31.
"I thought maybe Lee could hold them," Manuel said. "He wasn't able to do it. He usually does."
It was an interesting game from beginning to end. The Phillies took a 1-0 lead in the first inning and scored three more runs in the fourth inning to take a 4-0 lead with run-scoring singles from Jimmy Rollins and Delmon Young and a two-run home run from Erik Kratz.
But the Brewers scored twice in the fourth to cut the lead to two as Lee later stepped onto the mound in the seventh inning already having thrown 101 pitches.
"He had to go because that's what we had," Manuel said.
Left-hander Antonio Bastardo was unavailable because he had thrown twice in the previous three days. Manuel also said he wanted to stay away from right-hander Justin De Fratus, who had pitched on consecutive days. Setup man Mike Adams has irritation in his right biceps and was unavailable.
So Manuel pushed forward with Lee, which certainly was not the worst idea in the world. Lee has pitched well this season.
But a promising night unraveled in the span of just two batters in the seventh.
Lee walked Norichika Aoki to start the inning. It was his third walk of the night after not walking a single batter in his previous two starts. Jean Segura followed and ripped a ball into the right-field corner. Phillies right fielder Delmon Young pursued. When he got there and threw the ball to second baseman Freddy Galvis, Galvis made an errant throw to the plate as the ball short hopped Kratz and got away from him to allow Segura to score to tie the game.
Interestingly, the Phillies often have substituted Young from the game in the seventh inning when holding a lead. They made defensive changes to their outfield with a 5-0 lead in the seventh Thursday, putting Ben Revere in center field and moving John Mayberry Jr. to right. But they kept Young in right with a two-run lead Friday.
"That didn't hurt us at all," Manuel said. "That guy hit a triple. That didn't hurt us. He was going to come up the next inning, too, and I was going to let him hit. Because that guy got a triple, that didn't hurt us. That guy can run and he hit that ball five feet inside the line."
Manuel also said he had no problem with Galvis throwing the ball to the plate, even though it looked like he had no play.
"When he turns around, if he thinks he's got a throw, he can make a good throw and hit Kratz," Manuel said. "The ball bounced up in front of him, didn't it? Short hopped him."
Regardless, the game was tied. The four-run lead was gone.
Lee allowed eight hits, four runs (three earned) three walks and struck out nine in seven innings. It was just the second time this season he had walked more than two batters. Two of those three walks started the inning, and both times they scored.
"Yeah, I'm not very happy about that to be honest with you," Lee said of the walks. "Especially there in the seventh, the leadoff walk obviously ended up scoring and I've got to do a better job of making him earn his way on base."
Right-hander Mike Stutes and Horst worked a scoreless eighth, but Horst started the ninth facing Aoki, who hits left-handed, followed by the heart of the Brewers' order, Segura, Ryan Braun and Aramis Ramirez, each of whom hits right-handed.
"That's what it was," Manuel said. "When I looked at it, I figured Horst might have a hard time."
He did. Segura reached on an infield single, Braun singled up the middle to put runners at the corners and Ramirez singled to left to win the game.
"[Lee] is one of the best in the business, and he has been for a while," Ramirez said. "Any time you come back against a guy like that, it boosts your confidence."
Maybe it's different if Manuel has a full bullpen at his disposal. Horst certainly does not pitch the ninth in that case. But with Manuel saving Papelbon for a potential save situation, he went with what he had. It didn't work.