Propelled by the news that pitcher Cliff Lee was coming back, sales of Phillies tickets took off today.

Nationally, only New York Knicks games - especially one against LeBron James' Miami Heat - and the Auburn-Oregon college championship game were hotter, according to StubHub.com.

The Phillies themselves sold 15,000 tickets just today - by early afternoon.

"It's very, very active," said John Weber, the team's vice president of sales and ticket operations.

The number may seem modest - it averages about 200 seats per game during the 81-date season - bear in mind that the club has just one kind of ticket plan available at the moment.

Season tickets have been sold out for weeks.

Single-game seats won't go on sale until Feb. 17.

So six-game plans were the only possibility through the club, which sold out every game last season and nearly every one the year before.

These "Six Packs," which cost $240 and up for a pair of seats, come in five varieties:

-- Mother's Day (May 8) or Father's Day (June 12) and five other available games.

-- Two summer weekend games (May 21-22, June 11-12, June 25-26 or July 9-10) and four more.

-- A Boston Red Sox game (June 28-30), which won't be available during single-game sales, plus five more.

-- A fireworks night (July 28 or 29) and five more.

-- Any six games not limited by other Six Packs and not including Opening Day, April 1, which is already sold out.

Clearly, each Six Pack sale reduces the choices left when single games go on sale, Weber said.

Every year, some games are tough to get through single-game sales, because so few are left after partial-season plans and Six Packs.

As to whether Six Packs could result in sellouts for other dates before Feb. 17, that was unlikely and the club has the option to keep a thousand or so in reserve per game for single game sales, Weber said.

"We're not going to sell all of our tickets through Six Packs," he said.

For more, go to www.phillies.com, and click on "Tickets."

Contact staff writer Peter Mucha at 215-854-4342 or pmucha@phillynews.com.