Cliff Lee bested Jordan Zimmermann on Sunday, pitching seven innings of one-run ball to earn his third win as the Phillies topped the Nationals 4-1.
The Phillies held the Nationals to just five runs over three games in pulling off a home sweep to improve to 61-67. It’s the first time they’ve been within six games of .500 since June 28.
The Nationals had their chance to get to Lee in the seventh, only to be undone on the basepaths. With Jayson Werth on second, Adam LaRoche hit a long fly to right that bounced off the top of the railing and came back into play. Both thought it was a homer, but it was ruled the ball remained in play. LaRoche ended up being tagged out between second and third, while Werth only advanced to third base.
Werth did come around to score on a Tyler Moore double, but the Nats might have had a chance for a big inning there.
With Jonathan Papelbon unavailable after pitching three straight days, Josh Lindblom got five outs for his first career save. Lindblom had a 7.88 ERA in 10 appearances since arriving from the Dodgers in exchange for Shane Victorino.
Jake Arrieta‘s bat is in midseason form already. The Cubs’ ace swatted a solo home run to center field off of Zack Greinke in Thursday afternoon’s Grapefruit League exhibition game, his first homer of the spring.
The blast went 465 feet, according to MLB.com’s Daren Willman.
Arrieta has hit two home runs in each of the past two seasons. Madison Bumgarner (eight) and Noah Syndergaard (four) are the only other pitchers to match or exceed his output in that department.
Greinke, meanwhile, is hoping to bounce back after a miserable 2016 season. He finished with an uncharacteristic 4.37 ERA in 26 starts in his first year with the Diamondbacks.
Angels first baseman Luis Valbuena will miss the next four to six weeks with a strained right hamstring, Pedro Moura of the Los Angeles Times reports.
Valbuena, 31, signed a two-year, $15 million contract with the Angels in January and was on track to get the lion’s share of the playing time at first base. While he’s out, however, C.J. Cron will handle first base on a regular basis. When Valbeuna returns, the two will likely form a platoon.
Last year with the Astros, Valbuena hit a solid .260/.357/.459 with 13 home runs and 40 RBI in 342 plate appearances.