CLEVELAND (AP)—Cliff Lee followed his return from the disabled list with a more important comeback.
After a rough start to the season, the left-hander finally looks all right.
Lee (4-4), injured and inconsistent most of this season, improved to 10-1 in interleague play. He won for just the second time in six starts, allowing one run and five hits in seven innings—his longest start since May 8.
“I didn’t do my job there for a while,” said Lee, who missed all of April after getting hurt early in spring training. “But now I’m starting to get where I want to be. Hopefully, I can carry this over and keep it rolling.”
Shoppach, batting .552 (16-for-29) in his last eight games, connected in the second inning off Hamels (9-3), the NL’s only nine-game winner. The left-hander was roughed up for six runs and eight hits in five innings.
Shoppach added an RBI double in the sixth, Jason Michaels homered in the seventh and Grady Sizemore had two hits, two steals—giving him a career-high 22—and scored twice as the recently up-and-down Indians improved to 8-9 in June.
About the only thing that didn’t go Cleveland’s way was Casey Blake’s hitting streak, which ended at 26 games—the longest in the majors this season. Blake, who went 0-for-3 and was hit by a pitch, was on deck when Josh Barfield flied out to end the eighth.
“I wanted it to end,” Blake deadpanned. “Really it just wasn’t in the cards. That’s why that streak (Joe DiMaggio’s 56-gamer) is so amazing. It takes a lot of luck.”
Ryan Howard hit his 15th homer for Philadelphia in the sixth.
Lee began the season on the DL with an abdominal strain, but until recently he hadn’t pitched up to expectations and had heard so from disappointed manager Eric Wedge. Lee, though, had little trouble with the Phillies.
He worked in a curveball and changeup with his fastball, a mixture the Phillies couldn’t handle.
Lee’s early season struggles had weighed on him more than he publicly admitted.
“He was frustrated after the games,” Blake said. “I told him, ‘You’re thinking about it too much.’ He’s now pitching like we’ve seen him before.”
The Indians backed Lee with sparkling defense.
Barfield made a diving stop at second base and threw out Chase Utley from his knees in the fourth. In the sixth, right fielder Franklin Gutierrez snagged Aaron Rowand’s liner as he crashed into the padded wall. And in the seventh, Lee threw a one-hopper to shortstop Jhonny Peralta, who fielded it, stepped on second and threw to first for a double play.
“We had some chances to score, but we couldn’t get the hit to get us a couple of runs,” said Phillies manager Charlie Manuel, who made his return to Cleveland for the first time since being fired as Indians manager in 2002. “We hit some balls hard, but their outfielders made some good plays. Give them credit.”
Lee’s wildness had him in momentary trouble in the fifth. The Phillies loaded the bases when Lee hit two batters—both on 0-2 pitches—but he got Shane Victorino to line out to first basemen Victor Martinez.
Shoppach’s third homer was disputed by Manuel and Rowand, who argued that the ball didn’t clear the 19-foot-high wall in center. But TV replays showed Shoppach’s shot glance off the metal railing before falling back to the field.
Hamels was annoyed with his choice of pitches to Shoppach, and he was equally disturbed by his overall performance.
“I had thrown him two changeups in a row and then I threw a third one,” he said. “That’s something I need to learn from. I should have thrown him something else. It ticks me off.
“When you give up five runs in the first two innings, you don’t put yourself in a good spot and you don’t put your team in a good spot.”
Of Howard’s last 25 hits, 12 are homers. … Indians RHP Jake Westbrook, expected to rejoin the rotation soon, pitched four innings in a rehab start for Triple-A Buffalo. He hasn’t pitched in the majors since May 2 because of a strained abdominal muscle. … Browns rookie QB Brady Quinn threw out one of the ceremonial first pitches and stepped out of one of his shoes on the mound as he strong-armed a fastball. … The Phillies entered the series with a major league-high 25 outfield assists. At the same point last season, they had 14. … The Indians are 100-88 in interleague play.