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Phillies' Cliff Lee is dominant

Left-hander takes shutout into ninth inning and throws a complete game in his first playoff appearance.

October 08, 2009|Stephen Miller

PHILADELPHIA — One strike away from a shutout, Philadelphia left-hander Cliff Lee stepped back to survey the scene at Citizens Bank Park.

A sellout crowd of 46,452 was standing and roaring. The wind was whipping debris through the air.

It was a moment worth capturing for a man making his playoff debut Wednesday.

Lee couldn't complete the shutout, giving up a run-scoring double to Colorado shortstop Troy Tulowitzki after stepping back on the mound. Lee did finish what he started, striking out Garrett Atkins to lead the defending World Series champion Phillies to a 5-1 win in Game 1 of a National League division series.

"I wanted to give myself a chance to really absorb it and take it all in," Lee said of stepping off the rubber during Tulowitzki's at-bat. "Maybe it cost me a run, but we still won, so that's the bottom line."

The Phillies won because Lee dominated in the series opener of a matchup between the last two NL champions. He gave up six hits, walked none, struck out five and threw 79 of his 113 pitches for strikes.

Three of the hits Colorado managed came in the first two innings. The Rockies failed to score in those frames, allowing Lee to find a groove. He retired 16 consecutive batters from the second inning to the seventh.

Lee's performance quieted those who questioned Phillies Manager Charlie Manuel's decision to give Lee the Game 1 nod over Cole Hamels, last year's NL Championship Series and World Series most valuable player. Hamels will start Game 2 today against right-hander Aaron Cook.

"[Lee] definitely threw us off our game plan, because we did want to try to make him work a little bit more than how it ended up," said first baseman Todd Helton, who was 0 for 4. "He pitched a great game. He pitched to both sides of the plate for strikes. He just threw variations of his fastball mostly. He didn't even have to get off that because he got so many quick outs. We've got our work cut out for us from this point."

Colorado's Ubaldo Jimenez threw better than Lee for four innings, needing only 45 pitches to mow through the Phillies. A leadoff walk to Jayson Werth in the fifth inning changed the tenor of the game.

Raul Ibanez followed with a run-scoring double and Carlos Ruiz had a run-scoring single in what wound up being a 35-pitch inning for Jimenez. The Phillies tacked on three runs in the sixth inning on a run-scoring double by Ryan Howard, a run-scoring triple by Werth that chased Jimenez and a run-scoring single by Ibanez.

Colorado never threatened the Phillies' five-run lead. Lee made sure of that.

"You let it go," Manager Jim Tracy said. "There's no real play or any situation that you sit and wonder what would have happened if this would have taken place or that would have taken place. They beat us today."

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