Cliff Lee Too Much For Sox, Phils Get Split, 3-1

Cliff Lee and the Philadelphia Phillies were too much to handle Tuesday night, as the Sox dropped the second of their brief two game set at Fenway, 3-1.  Ryan Dempster was able to rebound after three straight awful outings, but it wasn’t enough as Philadelphia’s tough lefty went eight innings surrendering just four singles and one run.  Jonathan Papelbon pitched a scoreless ninth for his first save in his old home park as an opposing player.

The first inning went as the last few have for Dempster, as he surrendered a one out home run to veteran third baseman Michael Young.  For Young, a once power-hitting force as a member of the Texas Rangers lineup, it was just his second home run of 2013.  Dempster would get Jimmy Rollins to line out and Ryan Howard to strike out on a 3-2 swinging strike to end the visitor’s half of the first with Philadelphia leading 1-0.

In the bottom of the first, it looked as though Boston had a fighting chance when Jacoby Ellsbury singled to lead off the inning.  After Jonny Gomes flied out to right, Ellsbury took off for his 16th stolen base of the season.  With Dustin Pedroia at the plate, Lee’s next pitch was dumped into right field for an RBI single. With the game tied, Lee would turn on dominant mode and remind the 33,643 fans why he’s one of the most reliable pitchers in the game.

The Red Sox bats went silent as Lee set down the next 11 batters he faced.  The Sox didn’t gather another baserunner until Daniel Nava singled to lead off the fifth inning, but was stranded after a David Ross sac bunt, a Stephen Drew pop-up, and Jose Iglesias strikeout. For all of Lee’s brilliance, it was difficult to see that Dempster was holding his own in a much-needed solid performance.

Dempster ended up getting through seven innings, allowing just two earned runs on six hits and three walks.  The game was actually holding steady at a 1-1 tie into the top of the seventh.  John Mayberry Jr. reached on a single to start the inning and was moved up to second.  Phillies catcher Erik Kratz knocked Mayberry in with the eventual game-winner on a single up the middle. After a scoreless eighth inning by reliever Craig Breslow, the Phillies got more insurance in the ninth when Dominick Brown met Junichi Tazawa with a home run to right on the first pitch of the inning. Tazawa struggled in the inning, but was able to escape further damage with s strikeout to Young after a seven pitch at-bat.

With Lee at just 95 pitches through eight dominant frames and the Phils up 3-1, manager Charlie Manuel did what any manager would do – bring in Jonathan Papelbon to get a save in his return to Boston. While Lee certainly could have finished the game, Manuel couldn’t resist seeing the moment Pap made his way out of the Fenway bullpen for the first time as a visitor.

“Kind of wanted to see it, if you want to know the truth,” Manuel said after the game. “Pap likes drama. Might as well like it with him.”

Papelbon did what he has done his entire career, and set down the Sox in order on 16 pitches.  He struck out Gomes to lead off the inning, and induced two ground-outs by Pedroia and David Ortiz to end the game.  As Papi was thrown out, Papelbon raised his fist in victory.

“I loved it,” Papelbon said of his return. “I would say it was more fun than strange. It’s a little like playing against your brother in the backyard. For me, those guys are some of my best friends in this world.”

Boston and Philadelphia split the two games at Fenway and head to Philadelphia next to finish the four-game home-and-home series on Wednesday.  The Phillies will send righty Kyle Kendrick to the mound to face the red-hot John Lackey as Lack looks to push his record to .500.  The New York Yankees lost in a blown-save by Mariano Rivera against the New York Mets, so the Red Sox maintain their one game lead in the AL East.

Inside the Game

-Cliff Lee (6-2, 2.34 ERA)pitched his fifth straight game going at least seven innings and allowing two earned runs or fewer

-Before the game, there was a very moving first-pitch ceremony with Boston Marathon bombing victim Jeff Bauman and the man who saved his life, Carlos Arredondo.  Both men threw strikes as Fenway gave a standing ovation.

Jeff Bauman, accompanied by Carlos Arredondo, heads to the mound for an emotional first-pitch.

Jeff Bauman, accompanied by Carlos Arredondo, heads to the mound for an emotional first-pitch ceremony.

-Cliff Lee retired 22 of the last 23 batters he faced, and threw 19 first-pitch strikes to 28 batters faced

-Ryan Dempster (2-6, 4.45 ERA) went seven innings for the first time since May 7th vs. Minnesota. He has not won a decision since May 2nd at Toronto

Jay Coorey – MLB Contributor – Title Town Sports

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