Unexpected Lee: Phillies come up short against Cardinals in Game 2

First impressions aren’t always accurate. That was definitely so with the Phillies’ 5-4 loss to the St. Louis Cardinals in Game 2 of the NLDS.

Handing Cliff Lee a four-run lead normally means the game is as over as Charlie Sheen’s run on “Two And A Half Men.” Entering Sunday night’s game, Lee was 94-1 with a four-run lead.

Make that 94-2.

It looked good early for the Phillies. The offense was clicking. Ryan Howard drove in a pair of runs with a single, and Lee was magnificent over three frames but the scrappy Cards continued to fight. Lee was roughed up for five runs and 12 hits after six-plus innings.

“I wasn’t able to make the pitches I needed in the situations I needed to,” Lee said. “I take full responsibility. You give a starting pitcher a four-run lead in the first two innings and he’s in a pretty good spot. I somehow squandered it away. You have to give their hitters credit. They made me throw a lot of pitches. They battled and never gave up and they ended up with the win.”

The Phillies could have added more runs early. They had a 2-0 lead with runners on the corners and nobody out in the first, but added just one more run.

“We had a couple of chances there [to score more runs],” Manuel said. “If we could have got a big hit, we definitely could have scored more runs. But at the same time, when we score four runs early like that and get into their bullpen, I was pretty much thinking we were going to score some more runs.”

That was the expectation after the Phillies knocked out Cardinals ace Chris Carpenter, who lasted only three innings. However, the Phillies struggled mightily against the Cards’ pedestrian relievers, who have been running on fumes for two weeks. The Cards set down 15 straight Phillies until Jimmy Rollins singled in the seventh inning. The Phillies failed to reach second base after scoring in the second.

“It’s frustrating,” Phillies left fielder Raul Ibanez said. “But we have to battle back. The series is tied 1-1. We just have to play like we’re capable of playing.”

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