Manuel Glad For Back-To-Back Shutouts

Pedro Martinez and Cliff Lee didn't start the season in the Phillies rotation, but they've both made their mark. With back-to-back complete game shutouts, the "new guys" have proven their worth to the Phillies.

Before the season started, manager Charlie Manuel said he believed the Phillies were capable of throwing back-to-back shutouts.

He just never expected they'd come from Cliff Lee and Pedro Martinez.

"I don't give a damn who throws 'em," Manuel said. "Just throw 'em."

With a 124-pitch, six-hitter Tuesday against the lowly Nationals, Lee followed Martinez's eight-inning performance Sunday to give the Phillies back-to-back shutouts for the first time since April 27-28, 2003.

And because neither Lee nor Martinez joined the team until July, the Phillies believe their rotation is deeper and better equipped for a long playoff run.

"I think we're pretty good," said Lee, 7-2 with a 2.67 ERA in nine starts since being acquired in a July 29 trade with Cleveland. "I think, from one to five, we're as good as anybody. Some teams have a good 1-2 punch. We've got a good 1-2-3-4-5 punch."

In his previous three starts, Lee said he relied too much on his fastball, a big reason for his 9.60 ERA in those starts. Against the Nationals, he mixed his off-speed pitches more effectively.

Including his 22 starts for Cleveland before the July 29 trade to the Phillies, Lee has logged 216 innings, more than any other pitcher in the majors. Before the game, Manuel said he plans to monitor Lee's workload to make sure he's fresh for the playoffs.

But after throwing only 16 pitches in the eighth inning, Lee began the ninth. He got Adam Dunn to fly to left field, and after allowing a one-out single, he caught Elijah Dukes looking at a fastball and struck out Josh Bard to finish his fourth complete game (third for the Phillies) and second shutout (first for the Phillies) this season.

"I wasn't going to take him out of a shutout," Manuel said. "He's strong. He wanted to stay there."

Said Lee, "I feel as strong as I have at any point in the season. That's what you work all offseason for, to prepare for the end of the season and try to get in the postseason."

News and Notes

- Carlos Ruiz continues to swing a hot bat. Ruiz belted a three-run double in the second inning Tuesday to tie his season high for RBI in a game. In his last 24 games, Ruiz is batting .382 (26-for-68) with four homers and 16 RBIs. "He's aggressive at the plate, and he's been a little more selective," manager Charlie Manuel said.

-Kyle Drabek figured he'd make at least two more starts, and with Double-A Reading in the Eastern League playoff picture, maybe more. But in late August, the Phillies decided to cut short his season. "I would've rather continued pitching," said Drabek, the Phillies' top prospect. "But I'm sure I'm going to look back on it and think it was a better idea for me."

Drabek, whose career-high innings total (158) prompted the Phils to shut him down, was presented the Paul Owens Award as the organization's top minor league pitcher. In 25 appearances (23 starts) between Class A Clearwater and Reading, he finished 12-3 with a 3.19 ERA and 150 strikeouts.

-Slugging outfielder Michael Taylor was honored as the organization's top minor league player after batting .320 with 20 home runs, 84 RBIs and 21 stolen bases between Reading and Triple-A Lehigh Valley.

He said what?

"We've been getting outplayed by second-division teams. We might get a little tight with runners in scoring position, but our play overall, we're not tight. We're playing right to the beat of who we're playing (against). We're just sitting and playing right with them." - Manager Charlie Manuel, after the Phillies lost September 10 against the last-place Washington Nationals.

Roster Update

- J.A. Happ has been targeting Friday, the opener of a three-game series in Atlanta, for his return from the strained rib cage muscle that has caused him to miss his last two starts. So his eyes widened Tuesday after being told that manager Charlie Manuel may be leaning toward letting him make that start. "He's still saying maybe?" Happ said. That's an upgrade from last weekend, when Manuel set the odds at 50-50. But Happ didn't feel any negative side effects after throwing a 55-pitch bullpen session Monday. He'll throw in the bullpen again Wednesday, and barring any setbacks, he'll pitch against the Braves at Turner Field.

- Scott Eyre played catch for the first time since being diagnosed last week with a "loose body," likely a bone chip, floating in his left elbow. Eyre said he was surprised by how little pain he felt. He will play catch again Wednesday, and it's possible he could be ready to throw a bullpen session by Friday.

- Greg Dobbs (strained right calf) played five innings at third base Tuesday and went 0-for-2 in a rehab assignment for Lakewood in the South Atlantic League championship series. Also, as expected, RHP Clay Condrey was activated from the disabled list. He'd been sidelined since July 23 with a strained left oblique.



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