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NYM@PHI: Lee strikes out seven over seven innings

PHILADELPHIA -- Yes, starter Cliff Lee allowed just two baserunners after the first inning.

But that came after he'd allowed three runs in the top of the first.

Yes, the Phillies had 11 hits.

But they scored just two runs. And only one was earned.

Yes, they had their chances to win.

But they didn't, falling to the Mets, 5-2, on Friday night at Citizens Bank Park.

The Phillies entered the season stressing the importance of smarter at-bats, doing the little things right and taking advantage of their opportunities. They've already learned the hard way what happens when they don't, as it's the fourth time in seven games they've scored two runs or fewer.

The Mets entered the season widely projected as a last-place team. But they're 5-2 even after their starter, knuckleballer R.A. Dickey, admitted that Lee pitched better than he did.

"We got enough runners on," said manager Charlie Manuel. "We just didn't put anything on the board. When you get 11 hits, usually you score more than two runs. Actually, they gave us that last run. We would have scored one.

"Sometimes that's the way it goes. We'll come back and keep trying and concentrate on winning the next game."

Lee was a terrific first-inning pitcher last season, allowing just five runs in 32 starts. But his location was off just enough this time that he fell behind Ruben Tejada and Daniel Murphy leading off the game, came in with cutters that got too much of the plate and watched as that resulted in back-to-back doubles.

Then, with two outs, he grooved a first-pitch fastball to Jason Bay, who crushed it into the left-field seats. He also hung a curve to Scott Hairston leading off the fifth, which resulted in another home run.

"I made two big mistakes that ended up being home runs, and that's the difference in the game right there," said Lee, who struck out seven and didn't walk a batter. "If I could take those two pitches back, I would, but other than that, I feel pretty good about how everything went.

"I wish I could have the pitch back to Bay. The doubles were cutters that got a lot of the plate. I was behind in the count and I don't want to walk guys, especially in the first inning. I can give them credit for that. But the pitch to Bay was just a bad pitch, down the middle."

Lee prides himself on not issuing walks, so the Mets seemed ready to see strikes in hitter's counts.

"I think what happened is that he came out throwing strikes and they were swinging early. It looked like they were looking for balls to hit," Manuel said. "And we just couldn't get any runs for him."

Dickey, in the meantime, dealt with baserunners in every inning, but the Phillies went 0-for-8 with runners in scoring position, struck out 11 times and grounded into two double plays.

"In my opinion, [Lee] outpitched me in a lot of ways, but we were able to make the big pitch and, because of that, we were able to minimize the damage and keep some of the guys from crossing the plate," Dickey said.

The knuckleballer gave up long drives to John Mayberry Jr. in the second and Shane Victorino in the fifth that barely stayed foul. That's the kind of night it was.

Said Mets manager Terry Collins: "You just don't get to guys like that. You don't get to Cliff. You don't get to Doc [Halladay] or [Cole] Hamels or Vance Worley, jump on them like that. So that was a great start for us.

"Those kind of guys don't get out of rhythm. What they do is just keep coming after you. They're never intimidated by anything, so they just keep coming after you and coming after you, and when you get a ball over the plate, you'd better hit it, or you're going to strike out. [Lee] had a lot of strikeouts tonight because once we got behind, he made his pitches, and we didn't hit them."

The Phillies had enough good things happen to tease another sellout crowd, but they couldn't convert them into a win.

That's just the kind of game it was. Comments