Lowe outduels Lee, Braves beat Phillies 5-0

Derek Lowe knew he wasn't going to last long enough to finish a no-hitter.

The sinkerballer was pulled due to a blister on his right foot after allowing his first two hits in the seventh inning, but the Atlanta Braves overcame Cliff Lee's 16 strikeouts to beat the Philadelphia Phillies 5-0 on Friday night for their sixth straight victory.

"I knew it wouldn't be happening," Lowe said of a possible no-hitter. "I knew it would come to an abrupt end. I'm disappointed in my skin."

Shane Victorino singled to start the seventh for the first hit off Lowe, and Placido Polanco followed with a double. The right-hander then came out of the game.

Lowe (3-3) said the blister started to bother him in the fifth.

"That's about as mad as I've ever been for pitching good," he said. "It's frustrating for not being able to stay in. But a 5-0 win in this ballpark against a talented team, we'll take it."

Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said he expects Lowe will make his next start.

Brian McCann had a pair of doubles and an RBI, and Alex Gonzalez had three hits and an RBI for the Braves.

Lee (2-3) set the major league high for strikeouts this season, coming within one of the franchise record. The big league mark for a nine-inning game is 20.

"I'm not too worried about the strikeouts. That's just another way to get the hitter out," Lee said. "It's a nice accomplishment, I guess, but we still lost the game."

Trailing 3-0, Lee was pulled after throwing 117 pitches, 87 strikes, in seven innings.

Braves batters finished with 18 strikeouts, tying a club record for a nine-inning game. The last time it happened was May 22, 2006, at San Diego.

Lowe, who threw 97 pitches, limped off the mound after striking out four and walking one.

Despite not allowing a hit to that point, the Braves had relievers warming up in the bullpen at the start of the seventh. Facing Victorino to open the inning, Lowe got two strikes on the Philadelphia batter when he trotted off the mound toward second base, apparently trying to walk off his injury. Victorino broke up the no-hit bid with a clean single to left on the next pitch.

Atlanta trainers visited the mound before Philadelphia's next batter, Polanco, and Fredi Gonzalez lifted Lowe after Polanco doubled to center to put runners on second and third.

"He had the ball down and we were chasing balls down and hit a lot of groundballs," Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said.

Left-hander Eric O'Flaherty came on in relief and struck out the side to end the threat. Jonny Venters and Craig Kimbrel each worked an inning to complete the two-hitter.

"O'Flaherty was unbelievable," Lowe said. "I figured it would be a 3-2 game. Our bullpen has been our strength all year."

Lowe was trying for his second no-hitter. As a member of the Boston Red Sox, he stymied Tampa Bay in a 10-0 win on April 27, 2002, at Fenway Park.

Lee struck out 16 of the 30 Braves he faced in a dominating performance marred by four straight hits in the third inning that resulted in three Atlanta runs. The 16 strikeouts were one shy of Art Mahaffey's 17, set on April 23, 1961, for Philadelphia against the Cubs.

The last Phillies pitcher to have 16 strikeouts in a game was Curt Schilling, who did it on Sept. 1, 1997, against the Yankees. Philadelphia's Chris Short struck out 18 on Oct. 2, 1965, against the Mets in 15 innings.

"It was amazing the way he was pitching," Manuel said. "That doesn't happen very often."

The Braves scored three two-out runs in the third on four straight hard-hit balls off Lee. Gonzalez doubled off the top of the wall in left and scored on Jones' line single to left that went off the glove of a leaping Jimmy Rollins at shortstop.

Jones scored on McCann's double off the wall in left-center, and McCann came around on Dan Uggla's double down the left-field line.

"They were aggressive and I made some mistakes over the plate," Lee said. "It happened pretty quick. All it takes is one bad inning and you can lose a game, and that was the case."

Lee struck out 12 of the next 16 batters before being lifted for left-hander J.C. Romero at the start of the eighth.

Polanco, who fouled a ball off his foot during the at-bat against Lowe, left the game with a bruised right big toe and was replaced by Wilson Valdez. X-rays on Polanco's toe were negative.

Martin Prado and Alex Gonzalez had RBI singles in Atlanta's two-run ninth off Danys Baez.

NOTES: After the game, Phillies RHP Roy Oswalt was placed on the 15-day disabled list, retroactive to April 27, due to a back injury. Oswalt returned to the team Thursday after spending eight days with his family in tornado-ravaged Mississippi. ... RHP Kyle Kendrick will start for Philadelphia on Saturday in place of Oswalt. Kendrick will be opposed by right-hander Julio Teheran, the top prospect in Atlanta's system, who will make his major league debut. Right-hander Jair Jurrjens, originally listed as Saturday's starter, is being pushed back to Sunday. ... The Phillies recalled RHP Scott Mathieson from Triple-A Lehigh Valley to take Oswalt's spot on the roster. ... Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. said before the game that 2B Chase Utley would begin an extended spring training assignment Saturday in Dunedin, Fla. Utley has been out all season with right knee tendinits.