ATLANTA - There was enough progress for Cliff Lee to stand on a hill Tuesday to throw a baseball, an otherwise trivial act, except that 30 days had passed between mound sessions. Lee fired 20 fastballs at what he deemed "max effort." The test, he said, will be how his strained left elbow feels Wednesday.

That could determine whether Lee can make a return to the Phillies before the all-star break, which starts July 14.

"Potentially," Lee said. "It's tough to sit here and say anything right now."

Lee called his bullpen session "a pretty big step." He had been restricted to playing catch on flat ground. He had not thrown from a mound since May 18, his last start against Cincinnati before being placed on the disabled list.

The lefthander was diagnosed with a strained flexor-pronator tendon. He did not throw at all for three weeks.

"I can still tell something is there, but it's not painful or uncomfortable at all," Lee said. "The past four or five days have been probably the best progression I've had since the injury or since I stopped throwing. Yeah, the last few days have been good."

If Lee feels fine Wednesday, he will throw another bullpen session in St. Louis.

Brown's mistake

The Phillies nearly lost to the Braves in Monday's 10th inning when Domonic Brown committed a hideous defensive mistake. A day after the 6-1 victory in 13 innings, the Phillies leftfielder said he erred in poorly timing his jump on Freddie Freeman's drive to the outfield wall.

"I should have caught it," Brown said.

More bizarre was Brown's reaction after he missed the ball. He faced the wall and stood on the warning track as the ball rolled on the grass into left-center field for a one-out triple.

"He lost sight of the ball," manager Ryne Sandberg said.

"I heard it hit something," Brown said, "but I thought it went out."

Justin De Fratus covered Brown's mistake by coaxing a pop-out and a strikeout.

Extra bases

Aaron Altherr arrived at Turner Field in the 10th inning Monday and made his major-league debut in the 12th. He flied out. Altherr was the team's 40th player this season. The Mets (41 players) are the only National League team to have used more. . . . Righthander Aaron Nola, the team's first-round draft pick, pitched in a simulated game at the Phillies complex in Clearwater, Fla. Nola could make his professional debut for single-A Clearwater by the end of the month. . . . The Phillies signed their second-round pick (47th overall), Cal Poly righthander Matt Imhof. The deal was for the slotted value of $1.2 million, according to . . . Cody Asche (strained left hamstring) was 3 for 3 with a double Tuesday for triple-A Lehigh Valley. He will play for the IronPigs Wednesday and likely be activated Thursday.