Phillies suffer another big loss, this time to Braves
CLEARWATER, Fla. -- Cliff Lee's second pitch left the ballpark, but those that followed were as good as any the Phillies have thrown this spring.
Lee allowed a leadoff homer to Jason Heyward on a 1-0 fastball but little else in 3 2/3 dominant innings Monday. Little else went right for the Phillies, however, in an 8-1 loss to the Atlanta Braves. The Phillies were held to one run or fewer for the fifth time and fell to 2-9-2.
Lee struck out five, including the side in the second. He allowed just three hits, the last one a single to Chris Johnson in the fourth that ended his day because of pitch count purposes.
Dan Uggla followed with a 400-foot homer against reliever Mario Hollands, a towering blast to left field that landed just under the Frenchy's sign on top of the tiki bar. In addition to giving the Braves a 3-0 lead, it also accounted for Lee's second earned run.
The Braves blew it open in the seventh, scoring five unearned runs against closer Jonathan Papelbon, who gave up four hits and walked a batter but also struck out the side.
The Phillies entered Monday's game hitting a collective .194. A spring theme has been their inability to get going against starting pitching. Sunday they didn't get their first hit against Minnesota until the sixth inning; Saturday, the Houston Astros held them hitless into the fifth.
They didn't have to wait as long Monday, though it took much longer to score.
Chase Utley singled with two outs in the first inning. Marlon Byrd, batting cleanup, followed with a walk but both were stranded when Ryan Howard broke his bat on a fly out to center field.
Howard had another RBI opportunity in the third but couldn't capitalize. Byrd doubled to the warning track in center field, but Howard grounded out to first base to end the inning.
There weren't many scoring opportunities after that.
Through seven innings, Abreu was the only Phillies base runner to reach third base, doing so in the second inning. Nobody recorded a hit after his single in the fourth until John Mayberry singled with two outs in the eighth. He scored on Reid Brignac's single, the Phillies sixth and final hit.
Domonic Brown was 0-for-3 with three strikeouts and saw his spring average fall to .091. He and Howard each have nine strikeouts.