Who could have guessed Cliff Lee would be winless by the end of June and after 11 starts?
That's been the case for the Philadelphia Phillies left-hander, who gets the nod tonight in the opener of a three-game series versus the Tampa Bay Rays at Citizens Bank Park. Lee is 0-3 with a 3.48 earned run average in 11 starts and has posted back-to-back no-decisions, including Saturday's 6-5 loss at Toronto.
Lee was roughed up for five runs and a season-high 12 hits in seven innings. He has definitely given the Phillies enough innings this season (77 2/3) and has lasted at least six innings in each of his starts this season. Lee, though, has given up two or more runs in six straight outings.
The southpaw is 0-3 in five home starts and 6-5 with a 2.87 ERA in 13 career starts against the Rays.
Tampa Bay will counter with James Shields tonight and he is 1-0 in his last two starts since losing three of four trips to the mound.
Shields was reached for three unearned runs over 7 2/3 innings of a 4-3 loss versus Miami on Saturday and did not figure into the decision. He is 7-4 with a 3.72 ERA in 14 starts this season and 5-2 in seven road assignments. The right-hander won his only regular-season start against the Phillies back on June 16, 2006 in a 10-4 victory in south Philly. Shields tossed six innings of three-run ball in that one.
Shields defeated the Phillies in Game 2 of the 2008 World Series with 5 2/3 scoreless innings.
Tampa Bay will resume a nine-game road trip in south Philly and lost two of three tests in Washington to open the trek.
In Thursday's 5-2 loss at Nationals Park, Desmond Jennings and Sean Rodriguez both drove in runs, while Jose Lobaton and Drew Sutton had two hits apiece. Matt Moore drew the start and did not factor in the outcome after he allowed a pair of runs on three hits and four walks in five innings.
"They're a good ball club. They have really good pitching. Their bullpen is really good," Rays manager Joe Maddon said of the Nationals.
Joel Peralta allowed two runs in the sixth inning to suffer the loss. Peralta filed an appeal to his eight-game suspension for having pine tar in his glove and was ejected from Tuesday's game against Washington.
The Rays will also visit Kansas City and are 3 1/2 games back of the New York Yankees for the AL East lead. Baltimore is 2 1/2 games off the pace.
Philadelphia, meanwhile, is still last in the NL East and reverted back to its losing ways in last night's series finale with the Colorado Rockies.
The Phillies, who are five-time defending division champions, were targeting their first three-game sweep of the season, but couldn't hold a 1-0 lead or keep the Rockies from leaving the ballpark. Chris Nelson hit a two-run homer in the seventh inning and rookie Wilin Rosario added some insurance with a two-run homer of his own in the ninth.
Vance Worley was saddled with the loss and pitched well in seven innings, allowing two runs and four hits to take the loss. Jimmy Rollins' 39th career leadoff home run in the first inning provided the scoring for the Phillies, who are nine games out of first in the division and lost for the 13th time in 18 games.
"We won the series, but this game here would have been a real good one for us to win," Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said. "We didn't get it done."
Manuel's club will also host Pittsburgh for four games on the homestand.
The Phillies lost two of three meetings with Tampa Bay back in 2009, one year after beating the Rays in the World Series.