Lee lifts Phillies past Mets

Jerry Bech, The Sports Xchange
The SportsXchange

NEW YORK -- Cliff Lee began his day at Citi Field by watching television and learning that New York Mets ace Matt Harvey had suffered a partially torn elbow ligament. It ended with Lee -- a decade older than Harvey -- appreciating the good fortune that's helped turn him into one of baseball's best and most durable pitchers for the last several years.
Lee allowed just five hits in eight innings Monday night and earned his first win since July 5 as the Philadelphia Phillies edged the Mets 2-1 in front of 25,784.
Lee, who produced the second-best strikeout-to-walk ratio in history in 2010 (10.77-to-1), struck out seven and walked one as he moved closer to his sixth straight 200-inning season -- he's 21 1/3 innings away -- and his eighth 200-inning season since 2004.
Harvey was on pace for his first 200-inning season, but his 2013 season is done - and his 2014 is in jeopardy - after an MRI Monday revealed a partial tear of the UCL in his right elbow. Harvey said he hoped to rehab the injury without surgery, but given that most partially torn ligaments eventually blow out completely, it seems likely he will undergo Tommy John surgery that would sideline him for all of next season.
"I saw it on TV when I got here, that's not a good deal," Lee said. "He's been arguably the best pitcher all year, him or [Clayton] Kershaw. That's not good. As a baseball fan, I like watching him play and respect his game. That's tough to see that."
While Lee has spent time on the disabled list as a big leaguer due to oblique and abdomen injuries -- and missed a pair of starts this year due to a sore neck -- he has never been shelved due to arm issues. And while he credits his year-round workout regimen for keeping him healthy, he also knows injuries can strike anyone at any time.
"It's a dangerous game," Lee said. "You could get hurt at any moment, I mean, you could catch a line drive off your head and be done for life. There's all kinds of things that happen. There's danger in it, when you're trying to throw the ball as hard as you can for 100-and-something pitches and the guy hitting is trying to swing it as hard as he can. I think it's just part of the game."
Lee said he didn't think Harvey, with his textbook mechanics, was a candidate to suffer a serious arm injury. But after feeling soreness in his forearm following his start Saturday - when he gave up a career-high 13 hits in a 3-0 loss to the Tigers - Harvey visited Mets medical director David Altchek, who ordered the MRI.
Harvey, who started the All-Star Game for the National League at Citi Field, finishes his breakout season 9-5 with a 2.27 ERA and a NL-high 191 strikeouts in 178 1/3 innings. Barring a miraculous recovery, he'll probably have to wait until at least 2015 to experience the kind of relief Lee has been fortunate enough to experience annually.
"After the season's over, when you get there, you're just happy you made it through," Lee said. "It feels good to get through a healthy season. I've missed a few starts this year, I missed a couple last year. Things happen. But for the most part, I have been pretty lucky with health."
Lee was his usual efficient self Monday, running into trouble only twice. The Mets scored their only run in the second inning, which began when outfielders Roger Bernadina and John Mayberry lost Marlon Byrd's routine fly ball in the twilight.
Andrew Brown followed with an RBI single, after which Lee set down 18 of 19 batters, including 11 in a row between the fourth and eighth, before the Mets put two runners on in the eighth. Lee threw 30 of his 121 pitches in the eighth, which he ended by striking out Juan Lagares to preserve the lead.
"That was huge," Phillies manager Ryne Sandberg said. "Figured it was his base runner on second base, he's throwing the ball well. At that point, I wanted to make it his game."
Jonathan Papelbon earned his 22nd save with a perfect ninth inning.
The Phillies scored their runs with a two-out rally in the fourth, when Michael Young singled and Darin Ruf walked off of Zack Wheeler before Cody Asche laced a two-run triple.
Wheeler, who was expected to be the "2" in a 1-2 punch next season with Harvey, allowed the two runs on five hits and one walk while striking out seven.
"The entire day was difficult all the way around," Mets manager Terry Collins said.
NOTES: RHP Carlos Torres will replace Harvey in the rotation and is scheduled to start the finale of the four-game series against the Phillies on Thursday. ... The Mets received more bad pitching news Monday. ESPNNewYork.com reported that RHP Jeremy Hefner, who was diagnosed with a partially torn medial collateral ligament in his right elbow, likely will undergo Tommy John surgery. Mets medical director David Altchek recommended surgery for Hefner after meeting with him last week. ... Phillies OF Casper Wells was placed on the 15-day disabled list due to vision problems. Wells underwent LASIK surgery last November but has continued to have vision issues. He is hitting .128 in 94 at-bats this season between the Phillies, Chicago White Sox and Oakland A's. He also pitched for the second time this season Saturday, when he took the loss after allowing five runs in the 18th inning against the Arizona Diamondbacks. ... To replace Wells on the roster, the Phillies recalled INF Pete Orr from Triple-A Lehigh Valley.

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