Ryan Howard and Cliff Lee are two of the highest paid players on the Philadelphia Phillies' roster. They'll make a combined $41.5 million in 2012.
They're both also in the midst of highly disappointing seasons.
Lee was bit by the long ball Sunday but avoided defeat, while Howard continued his endless string of strikeouts but also eked out the game's walk-off hit as the Phillies edged the Arizona Diamondbacks 5-4.
Lee put the Phillies in a 3-0 hole when he allowed back-to-back home runs in the second inning. Lee, who allowed four home runs two starts earlier, surrendered his third home run of the game in the sixth, a half-inning after Chase Utley had tied the game at 3-3 with a solo shot.
Lee has surrendered 18 home runs in 19 starts this season, the same amount he allowed in 32 starts in 2011.
"I have to do a better job of keeping the ball down and in the ballpark, especially when it's hot here because the ball travels really good," Lee said. "That's what I have to be more conscious of, keeping the ball down and inducing more groundballs."
The home run ball hasn't been the only nuisance for Lee recently. In the past seven days, he had been the subject of trade rumors leading up to the July 31 trade deadline and then was placed in trade waivers and reportedly was claimed by the Dodgers at the beginning of the weekend.
Lee downplayed the eventful week after Sunday's game.
"You never know what's going to happen, but I signed here to play here, and they signed me here to play here," Lee said. "I think it was way overblown. They put a lot of players on waivers throughout the year. It's a standard deal. I don't know why it became a story. There are a lot of guys put on waivers and claimed. I don't know why it's a big deal."
Lee avoided what would have been his seventh loss in nine decisions this season when the Phillies tied the game in the eighth. In the ninth, Howard hit a one-out single off Josh Collmenter with the bases loaded. The hit gave the Phillies their fourth win in their last six games and provided some optimism for Howard, who had 25 strikeouts in his previous 51 plate appearances, including three in his first four at-bats Sunday.
"It's just a matter of timing right now," Howard said. "That's it."