Milwaukee's Zack Greinke has been the subject of trade speculation for weeks, and could be making one of his last starts for the Brewers.
In what could be his final audition for a potential buyer, Greinke takes the ball for the first time in 10 days Tuesday night against Lee, perhaps baseball's most unlucky pitcher.
With Milwaukee (44-51) dropping a season-worst 11 1/2 games out of first place in the NL Central with Monday's disheartening 7-6 loss in Philadelphia - its fourth straight defeat - Greinke (9-3, 3.57 ERA) seems likely to be on his way out. There was a report last week that the Brewers offered him a five-year contract worth around $100 million, but the 2009 AL Cy Young Award winner is still on the market.
One of the biggest questions for any potential buyer is how Greinke will perform Tuesday after the Brewers decided to skip his last turn in the rotation in an effort to give him some rest and get him back in his routine. He hasn't pitched since July 13, which concluded the unprecedented three-start stretch - a decision manager Ron Roenicke is second-guessing.
"We probably put too much on him, thinking he'd be fine, and he wasn't," Roenicke said.
Greinke gave up 10 runs in eight-plus innings during those three starts, and has a 9.00 ERA in four outings this month after going 4-0 with a 1.67 ERA in his previous six.
The right-hander, who has a 4.41 road ERA compared to a 2.56 ERA at Miller Park, hasn't started against the Phillies since June 19, 2004, his sixth major league game.
Philadelphia (43-54) appeared headed for a loss Monday, down 6-3 in the ninth, but Brewers closer Francisco Rodriguez imploded. He walked three, gave up three hits and allowed Ty Wigginton 's sacrifice fly, which capped the four-run rally as the Phillies won for the sixth time in nine games. They're still 14 games back of NL East-leading Washington."It's huge. We have to build on that momentum," said Ryan Howard , who hit a two-run double in the ninth and had a solo homer, his fourth in seven games. "We need to take that energy and spread it over nine innings."
That seems somewhat unlikely, though, considering the Phillies are 4-12 when Lee (1-6, 3.72) starts.
Lee pitched well enough to get the win against the Los Angeles Dodgers on Wednesday, allowing a run, two hits and a walk in eight innings, but Philadelphia could only muster one run off Clayton Kershaw . The Phillies went on to lose 5-3 in 12 innings.
It marked Lee's 10th quality start with only one win to show for it. The left-hander has been backed by 17 total runs of support in the other nine games."Not once this year have I said anything about being frustrated," said Lee, who was traded at the deadline in 2009 and '10. "I can only control what I can control, and that's to make pitches, get as deep into the game as I can and try to give the team a chance to win."
Lee had a 2.08 ERA in two starts against the Brewers last season, but five total runs of support left him without a decision.
Ryan Braun , who is batting .233 with two RBIs and 12 strikeouts in his last eight games, is 3 for 9 without an extra-base hit lifetime against Lee.
|July 17, 2012||Ryan Braun||Day-to-Day||Right thigh strain|
|June 15, 2012||Shaun Marcum||15-Day DL||Right elbow tightness|
|June 02, 2012||Aramis Ramirez||Day-to-Day||Left game - strained left quadricep|
|May 31, 2012||Ryan Braun||Day-to-Day||Tight Achilles|
|May 28, 2012||Jonathan Lucroy||15-Day DL||Fractured right hand, out 4-6 weeks|
|May 26, 2012||Cesar Izturis||15-Day DL||Strained left hamstring|
|July 09, 2012||Raul Valdes||15-Day DL||Strained right hip|
|June 25, 2012||Brian Schneider||15-Day DL||Sprained right ankle - out 3-5 weeks|
|June 07, 2012||Freddy Galvis||15-Day DL||Lower back strain|
|June 05, 2012||Placido Polanco||Day-to-Day||Left game - left index finger laceration|
|June 02, 2012||Jose Contreras||60-Day DL||Torn UCL, right elbow - out for season|
|May 28, 2012||Roy Halladay||15-Day DL||Right latissimus dorsi strain|
PHILADELPHIA (AP) -- Zack Greinke pitched an outstanding game, hit a home run off Cliff Lee and left with a five-run lead.
The bullpen let him down.
Hunter Pence singled in the go-ahead run after Carlos Ruiz hit a tying, three-run double and the Philadelphia Phillies rallied with six runs in the eighth inning to beat the Milwaukee Brewers 7-6 on Tuesday night.
A night earlier, the Phillies scored four runs in the ninth off Francisco Rodriguez to beat Milwaukee by the same score.
"I don't know what's going on," Brewers manager Ron Roenicke said. "These guys have always done a good job."
Greinke allowed one run and three hits, striking out five. He retired the last 14 batters he faced, but left after seven innings with the Brewers up 6-1 only to see them lose their season-worst fifth straight.
"He hadn't pitched in 11 days," Roenicke said. "It was right to get him out."
Pinch-hitter Eric Kratz got the Phillies started in the eighth with a two-run homer off Manny Parra to cut it to 6-3. Shane Victorino , Chase Utley and Ryan Howard worked consecutive two-out walks to load the bases.
"My command has been terrible the last two days," Parra said. "When you don't have to swing the bat, you don't swing the bat. I didn't give them anything to hit. I feel terrible."
Kameron Loe (4-4) replaced Parra to face Ruiz, who ripped a 1-2 pitch to the gap in left-center to clear the bases. Pence followed with a looping RBI single to right.
The last-place Phillies suddenly seem like the team that has won five straight NL East titles. They have won three straight, including consecutive walkoff wins.
Still, the Phillies entered the night 10 games behind in the wild-card race.
Michael Schwimer (1-1) pitched a scoreless eighth to earn the win. Jonathan Papelbon finished for his 22nd save in 25 tries.
With several scouts watching, Greinke showed he can certainly help a contender down the stretch if the Brewers decide to deal him before the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline rather than risk losing him in free agency after the season.
The 2009 AL Cy Young Award winner was scratched from his last start because of fatigue after pitching three straight games around the All-Star break. But he proved he doesn't have a tired arm, consistently throwing his fastball in the low 90s and reaching a high of 94 mph.
"I thought about it a little bit," Greinke said when asked if he considered the fact this could have been his last start with the Brewers. "I don't really like thinking about. It's kind of fun playing here. We've got a lot of good players, just not pulling out wins at the moment, which is disappointing."
Ryan Braun , Carlos Gomez and Aramis Ramirez also hit homers off Lee.
Lee gave up six runs and 12 hits in seven-plus innings. It's unfathomable that Lee, who is earning $21.5 million this season, has one win in 17 starts.
Braun ripped his NL-leading 27th homer over the ivy-covered brick wall in center to give the Brewers a 2-1 lead in the sixth.
Greinke connected in the seventh, driving his third career homer out to left.
Gomez hit one way out off the facade of the second deck in left in the eighth. Ramirez ended Lee's night with a two-run shot later in the inning.
Lee struggled at the start, allowing four hits and a run in the first. He retired 10 straight batters before Martin Maldonado started the fifth with an infield single. The Brewers loaded the bases with one out, but Lee picked Maldonado off third base and struck out Gomez to end the inning.
Notes: Four homers allowed by Lee tied a career-high. Orioles did it against him on Aug. 21, 2010. The 12 hits also tied a career-high. ... Brewers RHP Shaun Marcum threw a bullpen session. He hasn't pitched since June 14 because of right elbow tightness. ... Rickie Weeks is 1-for-17 on Milwaukee's road trip. ... Vance Worley (5-6, 3.82) pitches for the Phillies against Marco Estrada (0-4, 4.10) when the teams finish their series Wednesday afternoon.
Rob Maaddi can be reached at http://www.twitter.com/RobMaaddi