After unloading Hunter Pence and Shane Victorino earlier Tuesday following four disappointing months, the visiting Phillies send Lee to the hill to oppose Stephen Strasburg and the Washington Nationals in the opener of this three-game set.
The Phillies (45-57) haven't been in last place this late in a season in nearly 10 years, and after being swept in Atlanta over the weekend - they're now 16 1/2 games behind first-place Washington and 13 out in the wild-card race - general manager Ruben Amaro decided to make some moves.
Amaro first sent center fielder and pending free agent Victorino to the Los Angeles Dodgers for two pitchers, then shipped Pence to San Francisco for outfielder Nate Schierholtz and two minor leaguers.
Victorino and Pence have made a combined four All-Star appearances over the past four seasons and combined for 26 homers and 99 RBIs in 2012. One-time top prospect Domonic Brown was called up from Triple-A Lehigh Valley following the moves.
Washington (61-40), meanwhile, was quiet at the deadline, passing on making a move to improve its chances of reaching the postseason for the first time since the Montreal Expos made the franchise's only playoff appearance in 1981.
The Nationals haven't looked like they need any sort of help lately, winning eight of nine after Sunday's 11-10, 11-inning victory at Milwaukee. Michael Morse hit a tying two-run homer in the ninth, then drove in a pair of runs with a double in the 11th."It's crazy because you never know what this game has in store until the last out," Morse said.
Strasburg (11-4, 2.76 ERA) will look to keep Washington rolling.
The right-hander had his longest outing in more than a month Wednesday, allowing one run and four hits in seven innings of a 5-2 win over the New York Mets . Manager Davey Johnson was critical of his ace after he gave up four runs in 5 1-3 innings in Washington's loss to Atlanta on July 20.
Strasburg responded with one of his more dominant outings, striking out 11.
"Once the lights are on and you're facing another team, you want to go out there to make your stuff really dirty," Strasburg said. "It's something where I think when I take a step back and relax and let it happen instead of forcing the issue it helps out."
Strasburg wasn't at his best against the Phillies on May 4 when he allowed three runs in six innings, but the Nationals escaped with a 4-3 victory in 11 innings in the teams' first meeting of the season.
Washington has won 13 of the last 17 matchups - a run that started with a 10-2 win over Lee on May 31, 2011.
Staying put for now after being shipped away at the 2009 and '10 deadlines - once to Philadelphia - Lee (1-6, 3.95) is coming off a rough outing. He tied career highs by allowing 12 hits and four homers while surrendering six runs over seven innings of Philadelphia's 7-6 win over Milwaukee last Tuesday.
The left-hander had gone 1-1 with a 2.05 ERA in his previous three outings. He's lost his last two starts with a 5.84 ERA versus Washington.
Nats shortstop Danny Espinosa , hitting .315 since the All-Star break, is 7 for 10 with three homers against Lee.
|July 26, 2012||Placido Polanco||15-Day DL||Lower back inflammation|
|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|
|July 29, 2012||Adam LaRoche||Day-to-Day||Left game - Back tightness|
|July 22, 2012||Ian Desmond||15-Day DL||Torn left oblique|
|July 18, 2012||Jhonatan Solano||15-Day DL||Strained right oblique|
|July 01, 2012||Chien-Ming Wang||15-Day DL||Strained right hip|
|June 30, 2012||Stephen Strasburg||Day-to-Day||Left game - heat exhaustion|
|June 24, 2012||Xavier Nady||15-Day DL||Right wrist tendinitis|
WASHINGTON (AP) -- On his team's most chaotic day of the season, Philadelphia Phillies manager Charlie Manuel didn't give his players a fiery pep talk or words of wisdom - or any advice at all.
"The best thing you can do sometimes is not say nothing," Manuel said.
Cliff Lee threw seven innings and scored on Jimmy Rollins ' inside-the-park home run to lead the Phillies to an 8-0 victory over the Washington Nationals on Tuesday night.
On the same day Philadelphia traded outfielders Shane Victorino to the Los Angeles Dodgers and Hunter Pence to the San Francisco Giants , one of the Phillies' other former All-Stars heavily involved in trade rumors - Lee - excelled.
Lee (2-6) allowed five hits and one walk and struck out seven for Philadelphia, which snapped a three-game losing streak.
"I signed here to win here," Lee said. "Obviously, nobody is happy with the way this year has gone, but this is where I want to be."
Stephen Strasburg (11-5) allowed a season-high six earned runs and had season-lows with three strikeouts and 65 pitches.
"Obviously, he didn't have his best stuff and his location wasn't real good," Nationals manager Davey Johnson said. "He was fighting himself, young pitcher, lost a little poise. It's part of growing up. "
Lee hit a two-out single to drive in John Mayberry Jr. in the fourth inning. For good measure, Lee stole second, his second career steal, before scoring on Rollins' fourth career inside-the-park home run.
Rollins blasted the ball off the wall in right, and outfielder Bryce Harper crashed into the fence. The ball rolled back toward the infield and Harper had little chance to throw out Rollins once the right fielder recovered the ball.
"I thought I could catch it. I didn't," said Harper, who added he was not hurt on the play.
It was just one of the ways the last-place Phillies - still 15 1-2 games out of first place in the NL East - were sharper than the first-place Nationals on Tuesday, a day Philadelphia seemingly acknowledged its run of five straight division titles would end.
Kevin Frandsen , whom the Phillies recalled from Triple-A Lehigh Valley when they placed third baseman Placido Polanco on the 15-day disabled list Thursday, hit a two-run homer in the second.
Juan Pierre stole second and third on consecutive pitches in the third and scored when catcher Jesus Flores ' throw to third went into left field.
Ryan Howard reached first base after striking out on a wild pitch in the seventh inning.
"No one's giving up. No one's folded yet," Lee said. "So, it's game on."
Notes: After trading Pence and Victorino on Tuesday, the Phillies started Pierre in left field, Mayberry in center and Laynce Nix in right. Manuel said Mayberry and Domonic Brown , who was recalled from Lehigh Valley, would play more down the stretch. "We probably want to find out about that, too," Manuel said of Brown's ability to become an everyday player. "I think he can, but I haven't seen him a whole lot." Brown pinch-hit in the eighth inning and singled. "It felt great," Brown said. "I felt like I'm at home." ... Ryan Zimmerman and Adam LaRoche of the Nationals missed Tuesday's game with minor back injuries. Johnson said he thinks both will play Wednesday. ... Strasburg , who singled in the first, raised his batting average to .333. ... Nationals pitcher Henry Rodriguez walked Mayberry on a ball four that sailed well over Mayberry's head and straight into the net behind home plate. ... Lee has never been caught stealing. ... Rollins' last inside-the-park home run came on April 7, 2007, against then-Florida Marlins pitcher Dontrelle Willis . ... On Tuesday, Washington began a stretch of 17 games in 16 days. The Nationals, who host a doubleheader with Miami on Aug. 3, have their next scheduled day off on Aug. 16. ... Washington's Edwin Jackson (6-6, 3.52) is scheduled to face Vance Worley (5-6, 3.88) on Wednesday night.