Cliff Lee has 16 strikeouts, takes backseat to Derek Lowe

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9:50 p.m. EDT – Kimbrel settled for one strikeout, getting Ryan Howard to end the Braves’ 5-0 victory.  Four Braves pitches combined on a two-hit shutout as Cliff Lee notched his 16 strikeouts in a losing cause.

9:40 p.m. EDT – The Braves padded their lead with two runs in the top of the ninth before Chipper Jones fanned to end the frame.  If Craig Kimbrel strikes out the side in the bottom of the ninth, the two teams would tie the NL record for strikeouts in a nine-inning game, which is 30.

9:35 p.m. EDT – A big night for strikeouts.  The Marlins and Nationals have combined for 23 through 7 1/2 innings.  Ricky Nolasco had 11 in seven innings for Florida and then three relievers combined for three strikeouts in the top of the eighth.

9:30 p.m. EDT – 26 strikeouts through eight innings for the two teams combined.  The big-league record in a nine-inning game is 31, established by the Rangers and Mariners in a game on July 13, 1997.

9:25 p.m. EDT – The injury to Polanco was a right big toe contusion.  He appears to be day-to-day.

9:20 p.m. EDT – Worse news for the Phillies than a loss tonight would be a lengthy absence for Placido Polanco.  He was injured on the double that knocked Lowe out of the game and was replaced by Wilson Valdez.  NL third basemen really do appear to be cursed this year.

9:15 p.m. EDT – Taking lessons from Lee, Eric O’Flaherty struck out three in a row to bail Lowe out the jam and protect Atlanta’s lead.  And, as expected, Lee is done.  J.C. Romero took over to start the eighth.

9:05 p.m. EDT – And Lowe is done after giving up back-to-back hits to begin the bottom of the seventh.  Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez has gone to lefty specialst Eric O’Flaherty to face Ryan Howard in the 3-0 game.

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Cliff Lee just struck out the side in the top of the seventh for the Phillies, giving him 16 strikeouts against the Braves, yet he’s given up three runs and is going to be on the losing side unless the offense can come up with a late rally, as Derek Lowe took a no-hitter into the bottom of the seventh for Atlanta.

Shane Victorino singled to lead off the bottom of the sevnth, breaking up Lowe’s bid, but the right-hander remains in the game, going for his first win since April 16.

Lee got each of his final seven outs via the strikeout. He was at 117 pitches through seven, so it seems like a safe assumption that he’s not coming back out for the eighth.

Lee had never fanned more than 13 batters in a game before tonight.  His previous high was established against the A’s in a complete-game victory July 27, 2010.  It’s his 13th career 10-strikeout game.

Astros extend winning streak to 11 games

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The Astros rallied late to keep their winning streak alive, extending it to 11 games with a 7-4 victory over the Royals on Sunday afternoon. The club is now 48-25, leading the Mariners by a full game in the AL West.

The Royals took a 4-2 lead after three innings, but Brian McCann knocked in a run with a single in the top of the fourth to cut the deficit to one run. Carlos Correa hit a game-tying solo home run in the eighth. The Astros kept their foot on the gas, scoring two more runs on RBI singles from Evan Gattis and Marwin Gonzalez in the top of the eighth and another in the top of the ninth on Correa’s sacrifice fly.

Starter Lance McCullers allowed four runs (two earned) on six hits and two walks with nine strikeouts over six innings. Tony Sipp worked a scoreless seventh. Ken Giles did the same in the eighth. Hector Rondon finished off the win in the ninth, working around a one-out walk with a game-ending double play.

After winning all 10 games on their road trip against the Rangers, Athletics, and Royals, the Astros will head home for a nine-game homestand against the Rays, Royals, and Blue Jays. Each club is below .500.