Asche, Lee lead Phillies past Braves

The SportsXchange

PHILADELPHIA -- Not a single Phillies baserunner had reached second base against Braves starter Mike Minor before Cody Asche stepped up to the plate in the seventh inning.

With one man on and two outs, Asche jumped on the first pitch he saw and smacked it over the right-field wall for a two-run homer. It was all the support necessary for Cliff Lee, who tossed eight innings of one-run ball, as the Philadelphia Phillies defeated the NL East-leading Atlanta Braves 2-1 on Friday.

"I'd seen basically everything [Minor] had my first at-bat, so I was kind of looking for something up in the zone to attack," Asche said. "Whether it was going to be a slider, curveball or fastball, really just something up, try to get my barrel on it."

Asche, who also had a single in the fifth inning, picked up two of Philadelphia's four hits. He also flashed his leather at third base, snagging a screaming one-hopper off the bat of B.J. Upton for the first out of the ninth inning.

"I think early you could tell he was a little nervous and unsure and kind of feeling it out, but of late you can sense he's gotten more comfortable and his skills are showing," Lee said of his rookie teammate. "Defensively he's made some unbelievable plays for us, and he's gotten some big hits for us. I expect him to be a huge part of our team in the future."

Lee (12-6) was magnificent, allowing just two hits while striking out 10 and walking none over eight innings. He also hit a batter.

Lee made only one mistake on the evening, which Andrelton Simmons drove over the left-field wall in the third inning for a home run. Brian McCann and Chris Johnson both hit well-struck balls that died at the warning track.

"When it's cooler, you don't get as worn out, you can pitch longer and the ball doesn't travel as well," Lee said. "Whatever the conditions are, it's even for both sides, but me personally I prefer pitching in cooler weather."

Lee struck out 10 batters or more for the 26th time in his career and for the third time this season.

Jonathan Papelbon closed it out in the ninth to pick up his 25th save. He allowed a two-out single to Freddie Freeman but got Evan Gattis on a fly ball to end it.

Minor (13-6) nearly matched his pitching counterpart, allowing two runs on four hits and a walk in seven innings. He struck out nine and retired the side in order three times.

The left-hander didn't allow a hit until the fourth inning, when Jimmy Rollins singled to right. Rollins was thrown out attempting to advance to second. The loss was Minor's first since July 21.

"We gave him that little breather a couple of weeks ago and he's been outstanding. It's a tough-luck loss for him, to matchup against Cliff Lee the way he was pitching tonight," Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said. "I guarantee you, most of the time he goes out there, with what Mike had tonight, he wins the game."

Atlanta's No. 1 through 5 hitters were 1-for-18 with six strikeouts. Other than Simmons' long ball, Johnson and Freeman had the Braves' only other base knocks.

"Pretty good darn pitching matchup," Gonzalez said. "There weren't very many good swings."

The Braves' best swing of the night was Simmons' third-inning homer, which was his 14th home run of the season and second in three games. He entered the game 1-for-10 lifetime against Lee.

Despite the win, Philadelphia still sits 14 1/2 games back of the Braves in the NL East.

NOTES: Since the beginning of the 2012 season, the Braves are 20-11 against the Phillies. ...Phillies RHP Ethan Martin (2-4, 6.90 ERA) will move from the starting rotation to the bullpen, pitching coach Rich Dubee announced before the game. RHP Tyler Cloyd (2-3, 3.57), recently recalled from Triple-A Lehigh Valley, will slide into the five-man rotation. ... The Braves recalled RHP David Hale from Triple-A Gwinnett on Thursday. Atlanta's third-round pick in 2009 was 6-9 with a 3.22 ERA in 20 games (20 starts) in the minors this season. ... Braves 3B Chris Johnson, hitting .330, entered Friday second in the race for the National League batting title, trailing Colorado's Michael Cuddyer (.331). ... In the second game of a three-game series, Alex Wood (3-3, 3.15 ERA) will take the mound for Atlanta and Philadelphia will counter with Kyle Kendrick (10-12, 4.51) on Saturday night.
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