Cliff Lee tried to look on the bright side which was hard to do unless one was in the Los Angeles Angels clubhouse.
The Phillies appeared to have a mismatch with Lee against Matt Shoemaker, who was making the first road start of his career.
Shoemaker lasted five innings and departed trailing 2-0. With the way Lee was pitching that seemed like enough for the Phillies.
Lee kept his part but two of Cody Asche’s three errors led to four unearned runs in the sixth inning during the Phillies 4-3 loss at Citizens Bank Park.
To show how misleading a pitcher’s losses are, Lee has a 1.88 ERA in his last nine starts at Citizens Bank Park (since Aug 21 of last season) and is 3-4 in those games.
He took the loss on a night that he was dominating, even though the Angels are without two key injured players – Josh Hamilton and David Freese.
Lee allowed no earned runs for the third time this season.
And even though Asche committed two errors in the four-run sixth, Lee took some blame as well. Lee noted that he walked one batter Howie Kendrick, which was his only walk of the game.
In addition, Lee allowed a two-run double to third baseman Luis Jimenez that snapped the 2-2 tie. Lee got behind 3-0 to Jimenez before yielding the double. Jimenez, who had just six at-bats in two stints this season with the Angels entering the game, made Lee pay for getting behind in the count.
“I didn’t help the cause, walking a guy and then getting 3-0 and having to groove a fastball to him,” Lee said. “It just ended up being a bad inning.”
One that Asche won’t soon forget.
“It is frustrating, not so much myself, but when you let a team down,” said Asche, who entered the game with three errors. “Cliff pitched good enough to win a ballgame and probably could have gone all nine if it wasn’t for this, the miscues.”
Nobody on the Phillies spends more time pre-game working on his defense than Asche. That said, this was another game the Phillies let slip away.
Despite another frustrating defeat that left the Phillies 17-20, Lee said with conviction that he thought the Phillies could contend for a playoff spot. And before laughing that off, just take a look at the standings. Nobody in the offensive deficient N.L. East is running away with things.
“We would like to be in a better position right now no doubt, but I think if we play more consistently I definitely think we have a chance (to contend),” Lee said. “I think it helps that the Braves have played as bad as they have lately.”
Both the Braves and Washington entered Tuesday having gone 4-6 in their last 10 games.
“(The Braves) just kind of let everyone get back in it a little bit and there is still a lot of season left and we’re fortunate we’re not in a bigger hole than we can be in,” Lee said. “It all boils down to playing fundamental baseball.”
This was not a night for fundamental baseball, but the Phillies also managed just four hits. And they have had the lead in 26 of their 37 games, but own just 17 wins. This was another one that they gave away. No matter how much the rest of the N.L. East is stumbling, the Phillies can’t keep giving away games the way they did once again Tuesday against the Angels.