Cliff Lee sharp but Phillies fall to Tigers 1-0

Cliff Lee pitched five innings, allowed one run on six hits, and struck out seven against the Tigers on Wednesday. (Yong Kim/Staff Photographer)

CLEARWATER, Fla. – Against the Detroit Tigers on Wednesday afternoon, Cliff Lee showed he’s ready for Opening Day, while the Phillies’ bats reverted to their early spring form.

Lee struck out seven and allowed only one run in five innings against a Tigers’ lineup that featured most of its regulars, but the ace in the opposing dugout was that much better. Justin Verlander allowed one hit and struck out seven in 6 1/3 innings as the Tigers (13-12-2) defeated the Phillies (9-16-3) 1-0 at Bright House Field.

The Phillies only had two hits: a Chase Utley single in the first and a Wil Nieves single in the eighth. A baserunner did not reach second base until the bottom of the seventh, when Reid Brignac walked and advanced on an Edgar Duran sacrifice bunt.

The Phillies’ offense had picked up of late. Including back-to-back bombs from Ryan Howard and Marlon Byrd against the Yankees on Tuesday, the Phillies had hit .295 (81 hits in 275 at bats) in their past eight games. Howard struck out twice Wednesday, and Byrd struck out three times.

Bobby Abreu played in his second straight game after missing two games earlier in the week with a sore left shoulder. A designated hitter Tuesday night, the 40-year-old played right field against the Tigers.

Tied for the team lead in on-base percentage heading into the game, Abreu failed to reach base, going 0-for-3 with two strikeouts.


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In the field, his defense cost the Phillies at least two extra bases. In the first inning, Ian Kinsler reached third on a hit that, if Abreu had taken a better track, should have been only a double. Kinsler then scored the game’s lone run when Miguel Cabrera grounded out to shortstop.

In the eighth inning, Abreu unnecessarily slid for a ball that dropped in front of him in shallow right-center field. Pinch hitter Jared Reaves stretched the single into a double and reached third when the next hitter, Lance Durham, singled. With runners at the corners and no outs, Alex Gonzalez lifted a deep fly to left field, and Reeves retreated to tag up but was denied at the plate on a one-hop throw from Clete Thomas.

Abreu was not charged with an error on either play, but the Phillies did commit two, when Howard’s throw to second base in the second inning pulled Jimmy Rollins off the bag and when third baseman Cesar Hernandez couldn’t handle a ground ball in seventh. The team had committed only two errors in its previous 14 games.

Abreu has been informed he has not made the Phillies' Opening Day roster.

The Phillies will complete their spring slate in Florida on Thursday when A.J. Burnett takes the mound against the Toronto Blue Jays at 1:05 p.m.

The Phillies begin a two-game exhibition series against the Pittsburgh Pirates on Friday at Citizens Bank Park.