Lee dominates Braves for sixth shutout

Cliff Lee recorded his major league- 0, to extend their lead in the NL East.

Lee (16-7), who won his seventh straight start, has pitched 29 2/3 straight shutout innings. His ERA is 0.37 during the winning streak. He also became the fourth lefty in Phillies history with 200 strikeouts in a single season when he struck out Freddie Freeman in the second inning.

Hunter Pence knocked in three runs and Shane Victorino added a two-run single for the Phillies, who moved 8 1/2 games ahead of the second-place Braves. Carlos Ruiz recorded a two-run base hit for Philadelphia, which has won six of its last eight contests. Ryan Howard belted a solo homer in the opener of this three-game set.

"These guys, you can't let up on them for one second," Howard said. "We've been on the other side of that where the Mets (in 2007) had that big lead in front of us going into September. Things happened bad for them and we wound up coming back."

Earlier this year, Lee had a career-high 34-inning scoreless streak, which is the second-longest in Phillies history. Lee, who gave up five hits and struck out six while making 100 pitches Monday, is tied with Roy Halladay for the team lead in wins.

He also turned around his misfortunes against the Braves. Prior to Monday, Lee hadn't defeated the Braves since making his first career start against them on June 18, 2004. He was 0-3 with a 5.60 ERA in five starts since.

"If we make a play here and there, it might have been a little different story," Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said. "But for me, Cliff Lee, you've got to tip your hat tonight. He was dotting all his pitches and commanding both sides of the plate."

Derek Lowe (9-13) was charged with eight hits and seven runs -- five earned -- over five innings for the NL wild card-leading Braves, who lost for the third time in four games.

The Phillies loaded the bases with one out in the opening inning before Pence came through with a two-run single to left field.

Victorino's grounder into left field plated two more runs in the fourth. Carlos Ruiz slid in safely ahead of the one-bounce throw from left fielder Jose Constanza. Victorino then stole third and tried to score when the ball got away, but Lowe applied the tag on the helmet.

Chase Utley tripled high off the wall in right the following inning and scored on a Pence double to right field. Two batters later, Ruiz singled up the middle to plate two more for a 7-0 cushion.

Lee retired 16 straight batters until Dan Uggla's infield hit in the seventh inning.

"I'm trying to throw strikes. Trying to work ahead in the count. Force them to swing the bat, especially after we get a pretty substantial lead," Lee said.

The Phillies tacked on another run in the seventh when Howard smacked his 31st long ball of the year, a shot to right off Scott Linebrink.

Freeman singled to center to start the eighth, but Alex Gonzalez then hit a sharp bouncer back to the mound, which Lee turned into a 1-6-3 double play.

Lee singled in the eighth and came home from second on Placido Polanco's base hit to left.

"(I) felt like we had them off-balance from the start," Lee said. "(Ruiz) called a great game. He's an unbelievable game-caller. I might have shook him (off) once or twice the whole game."

Game Notes

Monday marked Lee's 11th career shutout and 26th lifetime complete game...Braves third baseman Chipper Jones missed the game due to flu-like symptoms...Earlier Monday, the Phillies activated pitcher Joe Blanton from the 60-day disabled list and reinstated pitcher Kyle Kendrick from the paternity leave list...The Phillies had lost each of their previous four contests on Labor Day...Lee moved over 200 innings pitched for the season.