SAN FRANCISCO - The Phillies flew here to escape the noise, the grisly sights from a weekend of baseball at home and the burden of a disabled ace. Their first task was to conquer the powerful Giants, a team with six straight wins and Madison Bumgarner, owner of a 1.55 ERA, on the mound.
For one night, the Phillies eased the pain of a disappointing start to 2013 with one of the more rounded efforts in the season's first 33 games. They won, 6-2, Monday night, and it was never in question because of Cliff Lee and Michael Young, two players who experienced such heartbreak at this ballpark.
Lee dazzled for eight innings. Young stroked two key doubles. Both were with the Texas Rangers in 2010 and lost the World Series to these Giants. There will never be retribution for that, but the Phillies desperately needed a win (if a team can be desperate in May) and earned it.
"That's more of what we are right there, no doubt," Lee said. "We definitely haven't been playing up to our potential. We've been really far short of that, to be honest with you. Tonight is more of a real depiction of what we are. I expect us to pick it up a little bit. We've underperformed this first month. It's time for us to turn it on."
A Tuesday doctor's appointment will bring news about Roy Halladay, news that is important for this team's long-term prospects. Without Halladay, improvement from Cole Hamels and Lee is required to contend.
"It'll make it tougher for us," Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. said. "There's no question about that."
The Phillies' .469 winning percentage when facing the Giants is their worst against any National League team since 2008. Their bats - dormant for much of this young season - quieted what is typically an electric atmosphere. The 181st straight sellout crowd stood and serenaded Willie Mays on his 82d birthday during the middle of the fourth inning, and that was one of the few raucous moments for the fans.
Starting the trip here was fortuitous, Young said.
"It can be a boost," he said. "This place actually might have been perfect for us. It's a great place to play. It's a great environment. The fans are into the game. You're playing a good club. It was good for us to come into this environment and try to compete. Have some fun. Play ball. It worked out for us."
Bumgarner slogged through his outing. He needed 78 pitches to complete four innings. He allowed seven runs in his first six starts of 2013 and by the fifth inning, the Phillies had hung five on him.
Young entered Monday with four more double plays (nine) than extra-base hits (five).
"I expect that to turn," he said a week ago, and it happened Monday. He ripped a double to right that scored the game's first two runs in the second inning. It could have cleared the bases if Chase Utley had not stumbled around third base. He scored, nonetheless, on a subsequent wild pitch.
In the fifth, Young again doubled. He advanced to third on a groundout and scored on a Delmon Young sacrifice fly. The exclamation point came immediately after. Domonic Brown launched a Bumgarner fastball into McCovey Cove, where a man in a kayak retrieved the wet baseball. It was Brown's fourth homer in his last 31 at-bats and his third career homer against a lefthanded pitcher.
"I told you," Charlie Manuel said, "it's just a matter of time before we start hitting some balls in the air."
Lee made it all stand up with brilliant pitching. Only Hunter Pence dinged him. Pence, the goofy Phillie-for-a-year who inspired catchphrases and strange commercials involving hoagie rolls, smashed a homer in his first at-bat against his former team. He singled in the fifth. He doubled and scored in the eighth.
"Take him out of the lineup and it would have been a really good day," Lee said.
Pence's home run snapped a 21-inning regular-season scoreless streak for Lee against the Giants. That, of course, does not count Lee's two starts in the 2010 World Series. He allowed 10 runs in those games, forever creating his demons in this city.
Last season, Lee tossed 10 shutout innings one night at AT&T Park only for the Phillies to lose. A few days later, Lee was placed on the disabled list with an abdominal strain. This was the kind of dominance the Phillies have come to expect from Lee but had not enjoyed with frequency in 2013.
In the seventh inning, the seagulls shifted from the bay to the ballpark and overtook center field. The fans murmured and some laughed. They needed a distraction because the Phillies exuded command on this night, the first of what they hope is a fruitful trip west.