Cliff Lee gave up a run last night before he allowed a hit. But he continued his pattern of not giving up much of anything in his brief but impressive Phillies career.
Lee won his fourth game in four starts, posting an 8-1 victory over the Arizona Diamondbacks before yet another sellout crowd at Citizens Bank Park.
The lefthander, who allowed just two singles, was supported by four home runs, two by Jayson Werth and one each by Chase Utley and Ryan Howard.
Lee had a no-hitter until pinch-hitter Chad Tracy lined a single to center field with one out in the sixth inning.
"I was aware I hadn't given up a hit, but I wasn't too concerned about it," Lee said. "My job is not to throw a no-hitter but to give our team a chance and throw as deep into games as possible."
Lee has certainly done that. In his four Phillies starts since being acquired from Cleveland, he has thrown two complete games; he pitched seven and eight innings in the other two.
Last night, he was at his efficient best, throwing 106 pitches, 81 for strikes. Lee struck out 11, tying a career high on a hot, steamy night. He didn't walk a batter and the only other hit he allowed was a single up the middle by Alex Romero in the eighth inning.
"It was humid and a taxing day," Lee said. "I was efficient with pitches and worked ahead in the count, forced them to swing the bat early and got good results."
As a Phillie, Lee has allowed a total of four runs, only three earned. Last night's run was unearned.
Not to be outdone by the Phillies' offense, Lee also contributed two hits.
"I may have to move him up in the batting order," quipped manager Charlie Manuel.
It's only been four games and yet Manuel is running out of superlatives for Lee.
"He's good," said the manager, slightly understating the matter.
This game had all the makings of a pitchers' duel between Lee and Diamondbacks righthander Dan Haren. Only Lee kept his end of the bargain.
Haren, who has been to three consecutive All-Star Games, allowed a season-high six runs and tied his season worst by surrendering nine hits.
Utley's two-run homer in the third inning was all the offense Lee would need.
Lee was working on a no-hitter that was preserved in the fourth by the type of play that makes official scorers earn their pay.
Diamondbacks leftfielder Ryan Roberts hit a ball down the line that third baseman Pedro Feliz tried to backhand. The ball went under his glove and was ruled a two-base error.
Roberts advanced to third on a ground out and scored on Stephen Drew's sacrifice fly, giving Arizona a run without a hit.
The Phils gave Lee some breathing room in the fifth inning - not that he needed that much - by scoring four runs on a three-run homer by Howard followed by a solo shot by Werth.
Werth hit another solo homer in the seventh. It was the seventh multi-homer game of his career and his second this season.
But the story was Lee, who won his seventh straight start. He has five complete games this season, which is tied for the most in the majors with Kansas City's Zack Greinke and Toronto's Roy Halladay.
It wasn't that long ago that fans were clamoring for Halladay to be a Phillie. Lee has proven so far to be much more than just a consolation prize.
"Cliff Lee has handled his business since he got here," Werth said. "He's a great guy to add to the team and fits in really well, and his performance on the field speaks for itself."
It's a good thing, because Lee doesn't seem all that comfortable talking about his exploits.
"Every inning, I expect to put up a zero," Lee said. "I've done that more times than not and I'm pleased with it but can't get caught up in it and don't want to pat myself on the back."