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Lee gets first win of 2012 as Phils beat Mets 9-2

The SportsXchange

By Dave Buscema

The Sports Xchange

NEW YORK -- For six innings, it looked like the Philadelphia Phillies would face another humbling step backward and ace Cliff Lee would continue to turn heads around the league by remaining winless.

But Chase Utley continued to prove he's getting healthier and helped give the Phillies a chance to do the same.

Utley's one-out homer in the seventh was followed by Carlos Ruiz's second homer in as many games and sparked an offensive outburst that resulted in a 9-2 win in an Independence Day matinee at Citi Field.

Philadelphia halted a six-game losing streak and kept Lee (1-5) from tying his career-worst personal skid by matching that number. Most importantly, the Phillies showed signs of life a day after manager Charlie Manuel said the Mets had taken it from his team in an 11-1 rout.

"Yeah, it's about time," Utley said when asked if the Phillies were glad to finally get Lee a win after the longest drought to start a season in his career. "He pitched well today."

Lee, who allowed just two runs on seven hits in eight innings while striking out nine and walking one, downplayed finally getting his first victory of the season.

"I mean, I think (the media) made more of a big deal out of it than I did," said Lee, who had allowed four or more runs in each of his last four starts. "I keep things simple. I try to give the team a chance to win every time. I would have loved to have had a win a long time ago, but to me it wasn't as big a deal as (the media) wanted it to be for me.

"It's been disappointing in the fact that we're in last place and we're a way better team than that. Those two things for me are disappointing."

Utley's two-run homer and Ruiz's solo shot gave the Phillies a 3-2 lead off Mets starter Chris Young, who had cruised through the first six innings, and seemingly put the Mets in a position to follow Tuesday's rout with a second straight win.

"Chris was in complete command," Mets manager Terry Collins said of Young, who allowed the three runs on five hits in a season-tying high seven innings. "Falling behind Utley, obviously, it's a tough situation when you fall behind in the count. I'm sure if you ask him he wished it was up a little bit higher, but it wasn't.

"And the next guy, the next guy's just red hot. Ruiz has been hitting everybody. So, seven pitches later, we're behind 3-2. I'm not sure we could have done much else."

The Phillies blew the game open in the eighth with three more runs off three Mets relievers, then added three more runs in the ninth, including two on Ty Wigginton's home run.

Scott Hairston homered for the Mets, who fell 4 1/2 games behind the NL East-leading Washington Nationals, who beat the San Francisco Giants for their fourth straight win. The Phillies remained 12 games back.

The Mets appeared to scratch just enough runs to keep Lee winless and frustrated as they took a 2-0 lead into the seventh.

Hairston's homer gave the Mets a 1-0 lead in the fourth inning. The Mets, who scored six runs with two outs Tuesday and had the second-most, two-out RBI in the majors (178) entering Wednesday, showed more clutch hitting in the fifth.

Ruben Tejada, Daniel Murphy and David Wright each singled with two outs, with Wright driving in Tejada for a 2-0 lead.

Young (2-2) kept the Phillies hitless until Juan Pierre smacked a one-out single to left in the fourth. He held them scoreless until the Phillies' three-run seventh.

But Lee shut the Mets down from there until the Phillies got their offense going, with seven of his nine strikeouts coming on called third strikes.

"When Cliff Lee's that good, he moves the ball around," Collins said of Lee, who said he mixed his pitches better, had better location and was ahead in the count. "He isn't who he is without being able to make pitches when he needs to."

Utley, who Manuel considered resting on the day game after a night game in his first week back from the disabled list, got Philadelphia on the board. Ruiz gave them the lead. The Phillies then broke out in the eighth with some two-out hits of their own.

"A huge point in the game and a momentum changer," Lee said of the seventh. "Came in the next inning and added on three more, so that's big."

After a one-out double by Jimmy Rollins drove in one run, Ruiz smacked a two-out single off Jeremy Hefner for a 5-2 lead. Hunter Pence, robbed of a pair of hits Tuesday on sparkling defensive plays, was then credited with a RBI single when the ball bounced over Tejada's glove at short, for a 6-2 lead.

NOTES: Mets outfielder Kirk Nieuwenhuis was out of the lineup for the second straight day after injuring his right hand in batting practice Tuesday. The Mets were awaiting results of an MRI on Wednesday, but manager Terry Collins said it didn't appear to be a DL situation. ... Infielder Jordany Valdespin was promoted from Class AAA Buffalo to give the Mets bench depth while they awaited word on Nieuwenhuis. Left-hander Justin Hampson was designated for assignment to make room for Valdespin. ... Hefner was demoted to Class AAA Buffalo after the game, and a corresponding move was not immediately announced. ... Phillies closer Jonathan Papelbon, who had not pitched since June 26 while Philadelphia was on a six-game losing streak, pitched a perfect ninth. ... Utley could be rested Thursday as the Phillies' plan was to play him two games on, one game off to aid his recovery in his return from the DL. He said he felt good overall after playing in a day game after a night game for the first time since he came back.
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