KANSAS CITY, Mo. - This has been a frantic but exciting time for Jon Lieber.
He flew home to Mobile, Ala., to watch the birth of his son, Jonah Kyle, on June 1. He returned to Philadelphia to pitch last Sunday, then went back to Alabama before he rejoined the team in Kansas City on Friday.
Things kept moving quickly last night at Kauffman Stadium. Lieber threw a three-hit shutout in a 4-0 victory over the Kansas City Royals. It's not often that a night game ends in daylight, but Lieber made that happen as the Phillies cruised from start to finish in just 2 hours, 10 minutes.
"It's hectic," said Lieber, who struck out 11. "I went through it with my second child, Jared. I didn't have as much time. That's why I appreciate the Phillies letting me go back and spend as much time as I did. It can be hectic during the season, and obviously I'm a little fortunate being a starting pitcher. It might be a little different if I was a position player."
Lieber's second child was born July 27, 2000. Lieber, pitching for the Chicago Cubs, faced the San Francisco Giants three days later at Wrigley Field.
He threw a complete game in a 3-1 victory.
Manager Charlie Manuel said he joked with Lieber after yesterday's game that he would give him the Roger Clemens Treatment if he continued to throw shutouts.
Hey, why not?
Lieber helped the Phillies recover from an 8-4 loss Friday when Freddy Garcia lasted just 12/3 innings. Garcia, who was supposed to make Lieber expendable in the off-season, is on the disabled list.
So what worked?
For Lieber, location is key, and last night proved no different.
"Location was a big factor," he said. "My breaking ball was much better than the last time out. If you look at the last few games, yeah, the numbers show that I basically pitched like crap. But I felt the same way I did those games. It's just that a couple balls fall in here and there. I didn't throw any different. It's just that I couldn't stop the snowball the last couple times. It's nothing different really."
Lieber is 3-4 with a 3.72 ERA.
He had a 7.56 ERA in his previous three starts, after he had a 2.50 ERA in his first six starts.
Manuel said Lieber is one of those pitchers who go on good runs. He hopes this is one of them.
"I feel like I've had it," Lieber said. "I feel like I'm still there. I know it's been, 'Here we go again. He's pitching like it's 2006.' I'm not even close to that. The results can be deceiving, especially if you watch the game. I don't think I've done anything differently. It's just being able to throw the ball, get strikes, pitch ahead, and get the guys on and off the field."
This was Lieber's 25th complete game and fifth shutout. He threw his last shutout on Aug. 16, against the New York Mets. His 11 strikeouts fell one short of his career high. He struck out 12 on May 29, 2000, against Atlanta and on July 28, 2000, against the Chicago White Sox.
"He was great," said catcher Rod Barajas, who, along with Pat Burrell and Greg Dobbs, doubled in the fourth inning to account for three runs. "He never had any kind of hiccup."
Mesa is back. The Phillies replaced Garcia on the roster with former closer Jose Mesa, whom the Detroit Tigers released last Sunday.
Mesa is making $2.5 million this season, but because he cleared waivers, the Phillies are responsible for the prorated minimum salary of $380,000. That's about $250,000. The Phillies signed Mesa after front-office adviser Dallas Green watched him throw Friday in Clearwater, Fla.
"It feels great," Mesa said.
Mesa went 1-1 with a 12.34 ERA in 16 appearances for the Tigers, but he said they did not pitch him enough to be effective.