CLEARWATER, Fla. – Cliff Lee continues to leave no doubt he is ready for the regular season.
The Philadelphia left-hander threw six strong innings in his fifth spring training start Friday as the Phillies and Boston Red Sox tied 2-2 after 10 innings.
Lee, facing the Red Sox for the second straight outing, allowed just three hits while walking one and striking out six.
One of those hits was a two-out, two-run double by Boston’s A.J. Pierzynski in the sixth inning.
In five spring starts, Lee has a 2.75 ERA. He has allowed six runs in 19 2/3 innings while allowing 14 hits, walking three and striking out 19.
Boston starter John Lester was strong again, too. The Red Sox lefty allowed four hits while walking one and striking out five in 5 2/3 scoreless innings Friday.
Philadelphia would tie the game in the bottom of the eighth with the help of a bizarre play.
Tony Gwynn Jr. hit his first home run of the spring with one out in the inning. That was followed by a single by Jimmy Rollins and the Red Sox replaced reliever Brayan Villarreal with Rich Hill.
After Chase Utley flied out, Kevin Frandsen hit a ball to short that took a bad hop and shot past the head of Boston shortstop Jonathan Herrera where it was then bobbled by left-fielder Scott Cousins, allowing both runners to move up on the error.
With runners on second and third, Clete Thomas hit a short fly ball to short. However, Herrera was playing back on the ball and didn’t charge it quickly enough. The ball fell in for a single and Rollins scored to tie the game.
That would be it for the scoring as Philadelphia’s bullpen continued to perform well this spring.
Jonathan Papelbon, Antonio Bastardo, Jake Diekman and minor leaguer Mike Nesseth all threw a shutout inning for the Phillies.
Wil Nieves went 2-for-2 for Philadelphia, which had nine hits overall and saw its team batting average rise ever-so-slightly to .223.
While that still ranks at the bottom of baseball, the Phillies are at least getting some quality pitching and some sharp defense. Friday marked the 10th consecutive game in which Philadelphia did not commit an error … after having 11 in their first 13 games this spring.
Friday marked the third time this spring the Phillies (6-14-3) have had a game end in a tie.
The game also set a new attendance record for Bright House Field with 11,210 fans.