CLIFF LEE struggled in what's expected to be his final rehab start before rejoining the Phillies, allowing eight runs, three earned, in 4 2/3 innings last night for Class A Clearwater.
Lee, slated to start for the Phillies (42-53) in Monday's series opener against the San Francisco Giants, gave up eight hits, four for extra bases, against the St. Louis affiliated Palm Beach Cardinals. The Cy Young Award-winning lefthander is working his way back from the left elbow strain that landed him on the disabled list on May 20.
The third outing of Lee's rehab assignment was also his longest. Philadelphia's Opening Day starter threw 76 pitches, 51 for strikes, struck out two but walked one and hit another. He induced seven groundouts to four flyouts.
Five of the runs against Lee came in the first inning, though each was unearned because of a fielding error by shortstop J.P. Crawford, who rejoined Clearwater yesterday after his appearance in Sunday's All-Star Futures Game in Minnesota. By inning's end, Palm Beach had tagged Lee with two singles, a double and a home run in a 24-pitch frame.
After the opposition added a run in the second inning on a sacrifice fly, Lee efficiently retired the side in order in each of the third and fourth innings. But in the fifth, before exiting the game, he surrendered a double, two singles and issued a walk as Palm Beach tacked on two more runs.
Lee previously threw six innings over two rehab outings for Clearwater. His first, on July 6, consisted of only 24 pitches and two innings because of a rain-shortened game. Three days later, he gave up three runs on four hits on 59 pitches in four innings.
Presuming he still returns to the rotation Monday, Lee is set to make two starts before the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline. Following his start at Citizens Bank Park against San Francisco, Lee's turn in the rotation would come up again July 26 against Arizona and July 31 at Washington.
Lee was 4-4 with a 3.18 ERA in 10 starts before the injury. The Phillies are 22-31 since.