PHILADELPHIA - Cliff Lee won his eighth straight game and light-hitting Humberto Quintero homered and drove in three runs Friday night, as the Philadelphia Phillies began a critical 10-game homestand with a 5-4 victory over the Atlanta Braves.
Lee (10-2) lasted 6 1/3 innings in 91-degree heat, ending a string of 11 straight starts in which he worked seven innings or more. He carried a 5-0 lead into the seventh but was knocked out when the Braves erupted for four runs. He allowed eight hits, struck out four and didn't walk a batter.
J.C. Ramirez surrendered a sacrifice fly to Andrelton Simmons after relieving Lee, but escaped the inning without further incident. Antonio Bastardo worked a 1-2-3 eighth, and Jonathan Papelbon blanked the Braves in the ninth for his 18th save.
Quintero, who made a rare start in place of Carlos Ruiz, began the night hitting .214 with a homer and five RBIs. But the right-handed batter hit an opposite-field two-run homer off Paul Maholm (9-7) in the third and doubled in the run that gave the Phillies a 5-0 lead in the sixth.
Ryan Howard hit his 11th homer of the year for the Phillies, who won for the third time in four games.
The Phillies, now three games under .500, have two more games against the Braves and four against Washington, the two teams immediately in front of them in the National League East. The stretch concludes with three games against the Chicago White Sox, immediately before the All-Star break.
"We're in a position where we have to have a real good homestand," manager Charlie Manuel said before the game.
General manager Ruben Amaro, also speaking before the game, agreed that it was "very important" to have a strong showing over the 10-game stand, but stopped short of saying it was a make-or-break homestand or if it will determine whether the Phillies are buyers or sellers at the July 31 trade deadline.
"I don't like to speak in absolutes," Amaro said, "but it's an important one, no question about it."
The Phillies took a 1-0 lead on a throwing error by Braves first baseman Freddie Freeman in the first inning.
The homers by Quintero and Howard lengthened the lead to 4-0.
It was the first homer in 10 games for Howard, who had last gone deep when he homered twice off New York Mets pitcher Dillon Gee on June 22.
NOTES: Atlanta C Gerald Laird and manager Fredi Gonzalez were ejected after arguing a called third strike by plate umpire Angel Hernandez in the third inning. ... Phillies SS Jimmy Rollins extended his hitting streak to eight games with a first-inning single. He had another single in the fifth. ... Philadelphia RF Delmon Young hit .486 on the team's just-completed 10-game road trip, which came as no surprise to manager Charlie Manuel. "I knew if he found his swing he could start putting up some numbers," said Manuel, who added that Young has typically been a second-half hitter during his career.