Delmon Young right on track
Rightfielder Delmon Young homers again as Cliff Lee and the Phillies blank the Marlins.
MIAMI - On the day Roy Halladay told the world he would need shoulder surgery, the Phillies lost to the San Francisco Giants. It was the first of three straight defeats.
Things haven't necessarily gotten any easier lately.
Carlos Ruiz also was placed on the disabled list and could be out for another month. Ryan Howard needed an MRI for a pesky left knee injury and Chase Utley will get his own MRI today on a rib cage injury that may punch him a ticket for a trip to the DL.
Despite the sky falling around them in the last 2 weeks, the Phillies, remarkably, have come to life.
Delmon Young launched his second home run in as many games and Cliff Lee threw his first shutout since 2011 as the Phils rolled to a 3-0 win over the Miami Marlins last night.
Since the aforementioned three-game skid, the Phillies have won 7 of their last 10 games. The Phils (23-24) also moved to within a game of the .500 mark for the first time since April 15, when they were 6-7.
"Our record will get good if we keep winning," manager Charlie Manuel said.
"Our pitching has been holding us together," said Delmon Young, who went 2-for-4. "Things haven't gone the way we've wanted this year, but we're playing better. If the pitching wasn't there from the start, we could really have a bad record right now. When you have good pitching, you always have a chance to be in ballgames and it doesn't require a high-octane offense."
But it does require some offense, which Young has helped provide in leading the Phils to back-to-back wins to take the series in Miami.
"I've been feeling better and putting good wood on the ball," Young said.
Young's bat looked slow in the first 3 weeks since he was activated off the disabled list and he was on the wrong side of the Mendoza Line after going hitless in four at-bats with two strikeouts on Monday.
But Young, who was hitting .192 entering play on Tuesday, went 4-for-8 with three RBI in the last two games.
In addition to hitting his second, no-doubt-about-it home run of the series last night - and the fourth or fifth ball he crushed during the series in the Marlins' spacious ballpark - Young also legged out an infield single that proved to be just as pivotal.
With two outs and no one on base in the sixth inning, Young bounced a ball just to the left of Marlins pitcher Wade LeBlanc and got to first base before second baseman Derek Dietrich could make a play. Domonic Brown and Freddy Galvis followed with hits as the Phils tacked on two more runs to what had been a 1-0 lead.
"I'd prefer to get a clean hit so I wouldn't have to run so hard," Young joked of the hit that began the rally. "It takes a toll on the body to run sprints like that."
In addition to his offense, Young helped Lee erase one of the Marlins' few baserunners. After Lee yielded a walk to Chris Coghlan to begin the fifth, Nick Green flew out to right and Young gunned down Coghlan, who attempted to advance to second on the play.
"He made a heck of a throw," Manuel said. "He played good."
Lee must have received a jolt watching the play unfold. The doubleplay began a stretch where the nearly unhittable Lee retired 14 of the final 16 batters he faced to complete the game.
"I feel like it got better as the game went on," Lee said. "The last three innings I felt as good as I have in a long time. They hit the ball right where I wanted . . . I just felt more crisp after the sixth."
Lee collected his third straight win by holding the Marlins to three hits in his first complete game (and first shutout) since Sept. 5, 2011. Two of the three hits Lee yielded never left the infield.
Lee struck out five, walked two and needed just 115 pitches to blank the Marlins.
Lee has a 1.16 ERA in his last four starts. He's been even better in his last 12 starts against National League East foes. Dating back to last year, Lee is 9-2 with a 1.09 ERA in his last 12 games against NL East teams.
When asked about the Phils closing in on the .500 mark, Lee shrugged his shoulders. Despite the falling pieces around him, Lee was focused on bigger goals.
"If you're going to win the division you're going to have to get past .500," said Lee, who was beaming with confidence following a dominant start against the woeful Marlins. "Obviously we aren't there yet, but we have to get past that to get where we want to go."
The Phillies optioned righthander Phillippe Aumont to Triple A Lehigh Valley after last night's game. They will make a corresponding move prior to tomorrow's game in Washington.
Fellow righthander Mike Stutes may be on their radar. He's allowed just one run in his last 10 appearances with the IronPigs.
Today on PhillyDailyNews.com: Chase Utley getting familiar with some letters today, MRI and maybe DL. Also, a photo gallery from Wednesday's game.