The Phillies’ Cliff Lee, already with a major league-leading five shutouts, was denied a shot at No. 6 on Tuesday. Having thrown 124 pitches, he was removed after eight scoreless innings in what turned out to be a 2-1 win over the Dodgers.
Ryan Madson closed it out in the ninth, but not before giving up an RBI single to Casey Blake.
At least Lee did have more than the win to celebrate: he hit his second homer of the season off Ted Lilly.
Lee could have become the first pitcher to throw six shutouts in a season since Randy Johnson finished with that many in a 1998 campaign split between Seattle and Houston. Besides Johnson, the last pitcher to record more than five shutouts in a season was Tim Belcher, who had eight for the Dodgers in 1989.
Lee’s homer was his second in five starts. He went 107 career at-bats without one before homering for the first time against the Braves on July 9. He’s the first Phillies pitcher since Randy Wolf in 2004 to hit multiple homers in the same year.
Despite his remarkable success when it comes to shutouts, Lee remains a big long shot in the NL Cy Young competition. He has just seven wins that weren’t shutouts, and he’s 12-7 with a 2.83 ERA for the season. His ERA ranks seventh in the NL and third on his own team behind Roy Halladay’s 2.51 mark and Cole Hamels’ 2.53.