PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Every year, Phillies starting pitchers have a hitting competition amongst themselves in which points are awarded for each player’s production at the plate.
Cliff Lee, who said he’s never won before, may be on his way to his first title after his latest performance.
Lee had three hits, knocked in a career-high four runs and struck out a season-high 14 to lead the Philadelphia Phillies to a 12-2 win over the Miami Marlins on Monday.
“I think I just took the lead,” Lee said.
Lee (14-6) stroked a two-run, bases-loaded single to cap off a six-run third inning and also hit his first career triple in the fifth. Chase Utley, who also drove in four runs, hit a long three-run homer in the third.
“I prefer to hit and then trot the bases,” Lee joked. “I try to do everything I can to help the team win and take it all serious.”
On the mound, Lee allowed two runs while scattering eight hits and walking none, at one point retiring 11 straight en route to winning his fourth consecutive decision. The left-hander’s 14 strikeouts marked his fourth double-digit strikeout game this year.
“Just being ahead in the count, pounding the strike zone, I had a lot of two strike counts,” Lee said. “I’m really not trying to strike guys out in that situation to be honest with you. I’m just continuing to try to throw strikes, and that’s what happens when you throw strikes.”
Lee is 4-0 with a 2.05 ERA in his last six starts and 5-1 with a 2.29 lifetime ERA against Miami. He’s also a career .391 hitter against the Marlins.
“He knows how to pitch, moves the ball in and out,” Marlins manager Mike Redmond said. “He got some runs early, so he could be more aggressive. … He can hit (too). He give you good at-bats.”
Philadelphia has won six in a row over Miami.
In his first major-league start, Sam Dyson (0-1) allowed seven runs on six hits and three walks while striking out only one. He struggled to find control, with just 34 of 63 pitches going for strikes.
“Up until today he’s done a nice job in the bullpen,” Redmond said. “He’ll bounce back and be ready for his next opportunity.”
Utley got the Phillies started with an RBI groundout in the first. His 17th homer in the third gave them a four-run lead.
“He had a little bit of a dry spell as far as home runs, but he’s taking good swings,” Phillies manager Ryne Sandberg said. “He crushed that ball. It’s all good signs of what he’s doing.”
Later in the frame, Cody Asche drove in a run with a single to right field. Giancarlo Stanton’s throw home was on the mark, but Marlins catcher Jeff Mathis couldn’t handle it before being barreled over by Domonic Brown.
After Roger Bernadina drew a walk to load the bases, Lee singled to score two more and chase Dyson from the game. In all, 11 Phillies went to the plate in the inning.
“He couldn’t have been more happy about his hitting,” Sandberg said of Lee. “He hustles to first base on bunts, he plays the game hard along with a quick tempo in his delivery, getting the pitch and throwing it. He really sets a good tone.”
Darin Ruf hit a two-run homer, his 14th of the season, in the sixth. He finished with two hits and three runs scored.
The Marlins’ first run came in the fifth inning, when Adeiny Hechavarria singled to bring home Justin Ruggiano, who doubled. Ruggiano also had an RBI double in the sixth.
Christian Yelich, Stanton and Mathis each struck out three times.
The loss was Miami’s ninth in 11 games.
NOTES: In their last 29 games against the Marlins, the Phillies are 22-7. … Lee passed the 200-innings threshold for the sixth straight season, the fourth-longest active streak in the majors. He also reached 200 strikeouts for the third consecutive year. … Dyson became the 12th different starting pitcher used by the Marlins this season, tied for most in the National League with the Mets and Pirates. … The Phillies on Monday announced Carlos Arroyo as the team’s new Minor League Pitching Coordinator. … Tuesday, Roy Halladay (3-4, 7.28) starts for the Phillies, while Brian Flynn (0-1, 10.13) goes for the Marlins.