The Thursday afternoon starter was long gone by the time the surprising Thursday morning closer stepped on the mound and pitched a scoreless 19th inning in the longest baseball game so far this season.
"I left early," Cliff Lee said. "I left in the fourth inning."
Lee wanted to get plenty of sleep Wednesday night before pitching the series finale for the Phillies against the Cincinnati Reds, a 10-4 victory. But like so many other people transfixed by the 6-hour, 11-minute marathon, he could not turn off his television in the wee hours of Thursday.
"I turned it off and planned on going to sleep, and I couldn't help myself. I had to turn it back on," Lee said.
As it turned out, Lee had to wait 14 hours to help himself, and he did exactly that with a bases-loaded double in the bottom of the sixth inning that broke a 4-4 tie and triggered a rout of the slumping Reds on a sizzling-hot day at Citizens Bank Park.
Lee watched the Phillies' 5-4 victory, credited to Wilson Valdez, like any other fan.
"When I knew [Danys] Baez was in the game and we didn't have anyone else behind him, I was kind of interested as to what was going to happen," Lee said. "I was just hoping [Valdez] could get through that inning without giving up a run. He threw strikes and forced them to swing the bat. That is the pitcher's job, and he was good enough to do that. It was different."
Lee clicked off his TV and went to sleep as soon as Thursday morning's game was over.
The way the Phillies followed up their marathon win was not quite as peculiar, but it still was different.
For the second time in as many games, one of their most esteemed aces squandered a lead.
Often a victim of no run support in his first 10 starts, Lee found himself with a 4-0 cushion after three innings, thanks to an RBI double by Ryan Howard in the first and a three-run home run by the red-hot Raul Ibanez in the third.
The soon-to-be 39-year-old Ibanez had played all 19 innings and had only four hours of sleep after delivering the game-winning sacrifice fly early Thursday. But he insisted there was no time to be tired, especially when he was back in the lineup for the series finale.
"You grind it out, and fortunately for us, we were able to win both games," said Ibanez, who is hitting .357 (30 for 84) with seven doubles, five home runs, and 15 RBIs since breaking his 0-for-35 streak at the beginning of the month. "You have to ignore what your body is telling you. It's kind of mind over matter."
Lee coughed up the four-run lead by surrendering two runs in the fourth and two more in the sixth. The second pair came on a home run by Jay Bruce, who finished the four-game series with 11 RBIs.
The pitcher did not have to wait long to make amends.
Reds reliever Daryl Thompson loaded the bases with nobody out by sandwiching walks to John Mayberry Jr. and Dane Sardinha around a Valdez single, loading the bases with nobody out in the bottom of the sixth.
As Sardinha was in the midst of drawing his walk, Lee looked into the dugout at manager Charlie Manuel.
"We were making sure he knew the bunt signs and everything," Manuel told reporters. "I was going to surprise you guys and maybe squeeze."
That strategy was discarded when Sardinha walked, and Lee stepped to the plate eager to hit the baseball. When Thompson fed him a first-pitch fastball, the pitcher slugged a long drive over centerfielder Drew Stubbs' head that took one bounce over the wall and into the shrubbery for a two-run double.
A rout, which included another RBI single by Lee and Chase Utley's first home run of the season, ensued. Lee, with the Phillies bullpen worn down, covered eight innings and did not allow another run after the Bruce homer. But it was hitting that dominated the postgame conversation, just as Valdez's pitching had 15 hours earlier.
"I know that [hitting] is important, and it can help the team win, so I try to take it serious," said Lee, who is 5 for 10 at the plate in his last four starts. "You can definitely make a huge difference, and fortunately today I was able to help the team win."
Pitcher Cliff Lee had two hits and three RBIs in Thursday's victory over the Reds. Here is how the Phillies' Four Aces are hitting this season:
AB H RBIs Avg.
24 6 1 .250
(1 triple, 2 R, 8 SO)
AB H RBIs Avg.
24 5 3 .208
(1 double, 1 BB, 9 SO)
AB H RBIs Avg.
27 1 0 .037
(1 R, 15 SO)
AB H RBIs Avg.
11 1 0 .091
(1 BB, 3 SO)EndText