Cliff Lee ducked into the dugout in the middle of the ninth inning after throwing a career-high 128 pitches, allowing only one run, and striking out 13 batters - yet still facing a loss.
Lee's complete game was spoiled by a lackluster Phillies offense that allowed him to be outdueled by Atlanta's Julio Teheran. The Braves righthander pitched a three-hit shutout in a 1-0 win over the Phillies at Citizens Bank Park on Wednesday night while all the players wore No. 42 to honor Jackie Robinson.
"I felt like I did what I needed to do, but you have to give credit to the opposing pitcher," Lee said. "We didn't score. He shut us out. So he was obviously doing something right."
Even with only three hits in the game, the Phillies still clung to the hope of a game-tying run on second base and their best hitter at the plate with a 3-1 count in the bottom of the ninth inning.
But Chase Utley could not play hero, grounding out to second base for the final out. Utley finished 0 for 4 with two strikeouts, snapping an 11-game hitting streak and dropping his batting average from .489 to .449.
For almost eight innings, all that stood in the way of Teheran's throwing a perfect game was the speed of Ryan Howard. The Phillies' brawny first baseman barreled down the first-base line to leg out an infield single on a soft grounder to second base to open the fifth inning.
Teheran retired the 23 other batters he faced before Carlos Ruiz ripped a two-out single down the left-field line in the eighth inning. Jimmy Rollins singled with two outs in the bottom of the ninth to add intrigue, but a favorable count did not benefit Utley. Teheran got the victory in the Braves' second straight win over the Phillies.
"He was throwing a lot of strikes, and fairly deep in the game he had a low pitch count," said Lee, who twice faced Teheran at the plate. "He was able to keep going at us. We allowed him to create momentum."
No pitcher has thrown a nine-inning no-hitter against the Phillies since St Louis' Bob Forsch in 1978. Howard ensured that streak continued. Ben Revere topped the Phillies' lineup for the first time since April 10, but he could not spark the offense. Teheran induced 10 groundouts and eight flyouts, striking out just four batters. No Phillies batter drew a walk.
Lee neutralized the Braves lineup for much of the game, with the lone blemish a home run by Evan Gattis on an 0-2 count to lead off the fourth inning. Gattis bothered Lee all evening, finishing with a career-high four hits.
"A lot of guys hit that same ball with the same trajectory, and it's not going to be a homer," Lee said. "He's strong enough to get enough behind it to get it out of here. I need to make a better pitch. That's all I can do about it."
Lee walked only one batter. He induced nine groundouts. He remained strong throughout the evening, requiring only 11 pitches to strike out the side in the seventh inning. It was his 29th career game with double-digit strikeouts.
"All I can worry about is making pitches and throwing strikes," Lee said. "Occasionally, you run into a pitcher that's on top of what he's doing, like tonight, and they shut us out. That's part of the game. Me looking back on it, I made a mistake on the one pitch and that cost me a run. That's my fault."