Cliff Lee hits second homer, denied crack at sixth shutout

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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.

Cubs place Ben Zobrist on 10-day disabled list with back soreness

Ben Zobrist
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Cubs infielder/outfielder Ben Zobrist has been placed on the 10-day disabled list with back soreness. The move is retroactive to April 14. While it doesn’t appear to be the precursor to any serious injury, Zobrist has already missed six straight days of activity after feeling his back tighten up last weekend. Should he see the minimum time on the DL, as expected, he’ll be eligible to return by the start of the Cubs’ series against the Indians on Tuesday.

Prior to his injury, the 36-year-old outfielder raked an impressive .326/.408/.465 with three extra-base hits in 49 plate appearances. He last appeared for the Cubs during their homestand last weekend and helped propel the team to a 14-10 win over the Braves with three hits, two walks and two RBI. Provided that he can remain healthy going forward, it’s a promising start for the veteran outfielder, who has yet to return to the All-Star-worthy numbers he posted with the club in 2016.

With Zobrist sidelined for the time being, Ian Happ and Albert Almora Jr. have shared the leadoff spot and center field duties over the last week. Happ went 0-for-8 with six strikeouts in two games before passing the baton to Almora, who collected five hits and two RBI in 11 at-bats.